Original Sin is based on the novel “Waltz Into Darkness” by Cornell Woolrich, the author of the story Hitchcock used as the basis for Rear Window. However, in terms of quality, it would be difficult to find two more dissimilar films. Unlike Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Original Sin fails to generate any real suspense. While there are plenty of plot twists, their presentation is so pedestrian that we don’t really care. Rather than flowing naturally into the overall narrative, they seem like a desperate ploy by writer/director Michael Cristofer (Body Shots) to keep the audience from losing interest.
Set in 1880 Havana, wealthy businessman Louis Durand (Antonio Banderas) has decided that it’s time for him to get married. His qualifications for a wife are fairly straightforward: she must be “kind, and true, and young enough to bear children.” Love isn’t important. He ends up with an American named Julia Russell (Angelia Jolie), a young woman desperately trying to put her past behind her. When the two are first married, they seem very happy. So much so, that Louis gives her access to all of his considerable financial resources. The “honeymoon” ends when Julia vanishes with her husband’s money. Louis takes off on a mission to find her, although not even he knows if he wants to kill her or win her back.
At one time or another, both Banderas and Jolie have turned in very impressive performances—Jolie even won an Oscar for her performance in 1999’s Girl, Interrupted—but Original Sin makes their previous accomplishments hard to believe. While both leads look good—Banderas at his rugged best, and Jolie with her full breasts and pouting lips—it never feels as though they really become their characters. If actors can ever be accused of “mailing it in” their performances would be a case.
One gets the feeling that Original Sin never intended to tell much of a story. What’s there is only for the purpose of dragging Banderas and Jolie through one melodramatic situation to the next. Besides, in this unrated version, we get a chance to see Jolie in the nude, which is worth the price of admission for some fans.
The ending is contrived and sensationally unlikely, but no matter. If your in the mood for a sweaty, overwrought melodrama, Original Sin is the perfect piece of campy trash to fit the bill.
Framed at 2.35:1, sharpness is sorely lacking. Detail is often soft, and occasionally non-existent. Color values are quite good, and flesh tones, while occasionally a bit rosy, are quite natural. Black levels are somewhat inconsistent. They range from good to very good.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has solid presence, with the split surround effects used to extend the soundstage appreciably. There are missed opportunities for panning effects constantly during the film, but otherwise, the various front and rear channels get decent use. Terence Blanchard’s rather bombastic score is spread throughout the soundfield to great effect while dialogue has been recorded well and placed in the center channel.
We get the following special features:
- Audio Commentary — Director Michael Cristofer a commentary that talks about filming, working with these seasoned actors, and more than enough filming anecdotes to keep you entertained.
- Music Video (SD, 2 min.) — Gloria Estefan performs “You Can’t Walk Away from Love”.
- Trailer (HD, 2 min.) — A theatrical trailer is included