Original Sin (2001)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Erotic Drama, Period Film, Romantic Mystery  |   Release Date - Aug 3, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 116 min.  |   Countries - France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Hastings

Though Michael Cristofer's overheated period noir never quite devolves into high camp, that's not to say that it shouldn't. Set in turn-of-the-century Cuba but boasting more pancultural accents than a U.N. conference, Original Sin is ripe with the promise of ludicrous melodrama: Cristofer's script is chock full of convoluted (yet still predictable) plot twists and haltingly bad dialogue; lusty leads Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas spend a majority of their screen time in various stages of undress; and there's even a stone-faced narrative device that frames the rest of the film in gauzy flashback. But where Sin could've played up the comedic, female-empowerment aspects of its source material -- think Heartbreakers with a period setting and a hard-R rating, or maybe Diary of a Chambermaid as directed by Pedro Almodovar -- it opts instead for tepid bumping and grinding and would-be suspense. Jolie and supporting knave Thomas Jane seem to be the only cast members in touch with the production's ridiculousness, and by the time Cristofer's willing to let them have a moment of levity, it's too little too late. So while it might be too much to ask for another Beat the Devil or even a Night of the Iguana, Original Sin could have at least offered something more than a lugubrious episode of Red Shoe Diaries.