Written by: Michael Cristofer, based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich
Directed by: Michael Cristofer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Antonio Banderas, Thomas Jane, Jack Thompson, Gregory Itzin
- Running audio commentary by director/writer Cristofer
- Music Video "You Can’t Walk Away from Love" by Gloria Estefan
- Animated Photo Gallery
- Original Theatrical Trailer
Released by: MGM
My Advice: Borrow it.
[ad#longpost]Luis Vargas (Banderas) is a wealthy Cuban coffee plantation owner who has looked to America for his new bride. They have never met, they’ve only conversed via letters. We join the story on the day he is to pick up his bride from the port. Julia (Jolie) appears as his wife and then the plot twists begin. She cleans out his bank account and runs out on him, but not before he falls completely in love with the charade. He risks losing his business, his wealth, and his security all for this mysterious woman.
Let’s face it, this movie serves two purposes. For women, this movie serves as a vehicle to see Banderas’ ass. For men, this movie serves as a vehicle to see Jolie buck naked. Now…since we have that out of the way, we can talk a little bit about the boring stuff (like plot, story, writing, acting, etc.) Oh yeah, since this is the unrated edition, there’s plenty of the two headlining stars’ anatomy to go around.
This movie has more twists than a bag of pretzels. Just when you think the original problem is coming to a conclusion of some kind, some new wrinkle happens that keeps it going a little longer. Normally this would be a neat thing, but by the middle of the film it gets to the point where, even though you don’t know what the twist is going to be, you know it’s coming. The dialogue is very weak and, like almost every porn you’ve ever seen (or heard about…Mom), the story, dialogue, and even the actors themselves serve only to get to the next sex scene wherever that might happen to take place.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not written like a porn. Banderas and Jolie do the best they can with the dialogue they have, but even they seem to know (or feel) that it doesn’t matter. Also, I have never seen such a clear cut difference between the principal cast (Banderas and Jolie) and the supporting cast. Everyone else in this movie seem to be living in a completely different world than the two main characters. And another thing, you are never quite sure whether you are supposed pity, envy, or hate Vargas. There came a point in the story where I had no more sympathy for him because he was just being stupid, had gotten burned so many times. The cinematography is gorgeous throughout and the direction is, for the most part, fairly thorough, but the story is just too weak.
The DVD really is nothing special either. The animated photo gallery is just a slide show of some pictures from the production where every shot is “moving”; either being zoomed in or out. I never get too excited about any music videos that are on a DVD, and this one was no different. So, that pretty much leaves the director’s commentary.
Cristofer is a fairly talkative fellow which always makes for a really good commentary track. Unfortunately, over the course of his commentary, he explains a couple of ideas and concepts that didn’t get told in the movie. I happen to believe that this is not what a commentary track should be for, i.e. exploring the cutting room floor in detail. In the parts where he’s not explaining something to you, he’s proving that he did his homework about late 19th Century Cuba and how this knowledge informed the choices he made throughout the film.
One thing he said on the track kind of bugged me, though, and I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention it here. Cristofer talks a little bit about American actors not really having the capacity to portray a man so much in love with a woman that he is willing to give up everything just to have her back. Banderas, he said, had the European background enough to be able to portray that on screen realistically. Now…first of all, there are plenty of American actors who could pull that off and have pulled that off, but they don’t look the slightest bit Cuban! And secondly, Banderas didn’t pull it off!
All in all, I would say that this DVD is not really worth owning and it is only worth renting if you are really interested in seeing Jolie and Banderas going at it…a lot. Get it on loan from somebody who was suckered into buying it.