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Original Sin review

Marketing was all this movie had going for it in the States. Advance buzz was bad enough for the studio to briefly consider nixing US press screenings - - and part of the hype for this erotic thriller was the nakedness of its stars. But the sight of an entangled, birthday-suited Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas is hardly enough to relieve the general flaccidness of the rest of this yawn-inducing muddle.

Writer/director Michael 'Body Shots' Cristofer has taken American noir novelist Cornell Woolrich's Waltz Into Darkness and turned it into an empty, pretentious ode to obsessive love. The lack of effort is transparent, as if Cristofer quickly realised that the whole enterprise was as silly and pointless as trying to shove the pulp back into a juiced orange.

Transplanting the setting to turn-of-the-century Cuba does little more than give Cristofer an excuse to use overheated drum rhythms instead of real suspense and give Woolrich's engagingly tawdry tale a misplaced attempt at elegance. This story should feel dirty, and instead it's been given an impenetrable, soft-porn gloss.

Banderas is clearly wrong for his part, but there's a bigger problem with Jolie: her usually unrestrained talent feels shackled here. Cristofer wants to turn her into an old-time movie star, but Jolie has proven time and again that she's a new breed of actress who normally displays such snarling beauty and sexual rage that her fellow cast members are forced to play catch-up. Whenever she's required to allow Cristofer's camera to admire her, she looks incredibly uncomfortable.

When her character, perched like a stuffed bird in a boxed seat at a play, says: "'The theatre, I love it - - even the cheap melodramas'," you wish she were in one instead of this overdone drivel.

Original Sin is just Basic Instinct with pretensions, a big-screen attempt at a Red Shoe Diary. What should have been a tense, violent and gritty little thriller is prettified to the point of tedium, broken only by flashes of over-the-top silliness.

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