Original Sin

From the Chicago Reader in 2001. Reseeing, as if for the first time, in 2022, in its “original uncut version” on HBO, I like it even more, including its crazy ending, as a sort of Sternbergian fantasy overlay to Woolrich. — J.R.

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A remake of Francois Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid — derived, like its predecessor, from Cornell Woolrich’s most perverse (and in some ways most interesting) novel, Waltz Into Darkness. Antonio Banderas plays a Cuban businessman who marries a mail-order bride (Angelina Jolie), then uncovers foul play even as he experiences infatuation at its most irrational and masochistic. This version is more sensual and atmospheric than Truffaut’s, and in many ways it’s a better film than its studio seems to think (judging from its nervousness about any reviews appearing before the film opened). It certainly retained my interest and sympathy — at least until the nonsensical ending, which looks as if it might have been imposed according to the voodoo science of test marketing. Written and directed by Michael Cristofer. 116 min. (JR)

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