Thursday Night Movie Club
Original Sin
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Release Date: August 3, 2001

Director: Michael Cristofer
Antonio Banderas
Angelina Jolie
Thomas Jane
Jack Thompson
Gregory Itzin
Allison Mackie
Luis Antonio Vargas
Julia Russell/Bonny Castle Walter Downs
Alan Jordan
Colonel Worth
Augusta Jordan
Original Sin poster Original Sin poster Original Sin poster
Click on the photo to link to the Official MGM website.

"Original Sin" is, unfortunately, a standard whodunit/con movie. It has promise but is missing on a few levels. There is only one "surprise" in the movie and as my friend Jake pointed out wasn't much of a surprise. I momentarily fell for the "gag" but quickly recovered and made the connection before the movie's resolution.

Luis Vargas is a successful coffee grower in Turn-of-the-Century Cuba. He is missing only one thing in his life, an heir that he can turn over his fortune to. Through a series of correspondences, he connects with Julia Russell who agrees to travel to Cuba to become Mrs. Luis Vargas.

When they finally meet at the harbor in Cuba, Julia is not what she appears to be. She has secrets. She is much more beautiful than the picture she sent to Vargas. Her simple explanation is that Vargas may not want to marry her for who she is but simply for her beauty, which is undeniable. To complicate matters, Vargas also has secrets. He denied to tell Julia that he is rich fearing that she may want to marry him for his money and not for who he is. After resolving these conflicts, they agree to marry.

Julia gradually comes to love Vargas and they eventually consummate the marriage. The consummation is not as hot as in other movies, most notably the remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Pierce Brosnan and Renee Russo. Intrigue begins when Julia's sister is concerned that she hasn't heard from her sister. She sends private investigator Walter Downs to find Julia.

In the meantime, Vargas falls madly for Julia and wants to give her everything. He gives her carte blanche over his bank accounts. Julia disappears shortly thereafter. With Downs help, Vargas eventually locates the missing Julia only to discover that she is not Julia Russell but Bonny Castle, an orphan that has taken Julia's place. When the real Julia turns up dead, the movie should become an interesting cat-and-mouse intriguing thriller. The movie becomes just another standard movie of the genre. Of course, the characters do not know what a "standard genre movie" is but the audience does and I began to try to figure out what the secrets are that everyone is hiding.

The movie takes a strange turn by jumping "ahead" to a death-bed confession by Julia to a priest. She is in a prison cell on the verge of her execution. This is designed to set up the finale which is not only obvious but rather expected. Julia/Bonny has a revelation that she cannot live in Vargas' world and that he cannot live in hers. Unfortunately, that is not how the movie ends. To explain further would only give away the "surprises" and that is something I abhor in a movie review. If this were film criticism, it would be different. A review assumes that the reader has not yet seen the film. I will say that Thomas Jane is quiet good as the investigator that gradually becomes more menacing with each passing scene. His acting is the only real surprise in this movie.

There are several things wrong with this movie. Initially, Vargas is only interested in having a wife to bear his children. What is missing is Vargas infatuation with Julia/Bonny. Even after he learns the truth, he continues to call her "Julia". But I could not understand his love for her. It's in the lines he speaks but it is not "between" the lines.