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Original Sin


``Original Sin''... full of action.

ADARK film in all respects — the frames, the emotions, the situations and the twists and turns. It's a rather old fashioned story- with a woman playing games with more men than one. Age old and oft repeated but with this film set in an almost feudalistic set up in exotic Cuba, it probably reaches new heights considering the fact that it features two very good looking, volatile individuals- Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie.

A beautiful woman walks into a man's life, makes him fall in love with her, drives him to murder and walks away with all his money and self-respect. What is he to do? You'd think he'd want take revenge. Well, he does but he also wants her back _ to love and to keep with him forever. Madness? Quite! As the film progresses the woman in question goes from situation to situation till one wonders what she really is up to.

Coffee plantation owner and merchant Lius (Antonio Banderas) has chosen a bride just seeing a photograph - a mail order bride if you please. Her name is Julia Russell (Angelina Jolie) from Delaware and she is to marry him and join him in Cuba a country at the turn of the century. He's not for torrid romance or a beautiful woman to satiate his passions - all he wants is a kind loyal woman who can bear him sons and daughters. An American is his choice because as he says ``Cuba represents the past.''

But the woman who turns up is not only beautiful but very seductive as well - completely different from the picture sent to him so that he does not marry her for her looks alone. Well if one can lie the other can too. So Luis confesses that he is not a clerk that he said he was in a plantation but the owner. They have something in common - and as Julia puts it ``We are both not to be trusted.'' The inevitable happens with Luis falling hopelessly in love with her

The shadows creep in and lies and deception seem to envelop their relationship- discrepancies are there in the way Julia is vis-a-vis her letters written before the marriage. Things get murkier when private detective Walter Down (Thomas Jane) shows up ostensibly to investigate Julia's whereabouts at the behest of Julia's sister Emily.

The game begins - a deadly one where the rules of the game don't seem to have any morals or obligations. The ending is somehow predictable - one doesn't guess it but like a faint melody one feels it is not all that desperate. However the mood of gloom and sense of doom seeps through each visual till the very end. Antonio Banderas is in a rather unusual role- we are used to seeing him so macho and masterful- here he is a broken man for most part of the film and it takes a while to get used to it. As for Angelina Jolie her pouts and sex appeal seem more obvious than histrionics. Perhaps that is what the role requires of her. Directed by Pulitzer prize winning writer Michael Cristofer this 20th Century Fox film has been adapted from a book which no doubt would make interesting reading.

CHITRA MAHESH

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