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   CITY OF ANGELS (1998) 

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CAST
Nicolas Cage
Meg Ryan
Andre Braugher
Dennis Franz
Colm Feore
Robin Bartlett
Joanna Merlin

DIRECTED BY
Brad Silberling

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 114 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance/Drama/Supernatural


The only reason I couldn't totally pan this film is because of my huge respect and love for Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. These two fine actors rarely get the kudos they so richly deserve. However, after making this movie I'm surprised they're still working at all. Now was it really that bad? No. But it's neither what I expected nor what I wanted to see. A powerful love story? Perhaps to some people. However, how many movies extolling the beauty, mystery and preciousness of life do we need to see? I know all about that, I'm living. Certainly we need reminders, but I'd rather get a swift kick in the ass than have to sit through a brooding, mopey movie like this.

It's obvious they were trying to go for the cerebral thing, but that doesn't make for a romantic or enjoyable experience. The film shakes up the regular romance formula by making Cage an angel named Seth who helps the newly dead cross over from one world to the next. He has no past, no future, no likes or dislikes. Basically no personality because he's not human and never has been. This is one of the main problems with this movie. Granted it's an interesting idea, an angel wanting to be human, to experience life. Yet it doesn't pan out.

Every time Seth picks someone up, he asks them what the best thing about life is. Maybe if he also asked what the worst thing is, he wouldn't be so quick to rush into mortality. The filmmaker's ask us to make a big leap of faith, without much evidence, that this would be the best path for Seth. Why? Because he met Meg Ryan? Most men may agree with this choice, but it's not a big enough reason for me. They're trying to convince me that she's the only human being to capture his attention and passion throughout eternity? She's good, but come on. Ryan plays Maggie, a passionate surgeon who desperately fights for the lives of her patients. She is unable to accept death because she's a failure at her job if she can't prevent it.


"Some things are true whether you believe in them or not."

Seth's presence comforts and disturbs her. She doesn't understand what he is or where he comes from. Eventually, once she believes the truth, she asks him to leave her alone, unable to comprehend his existence, but unable to live without it. She leaves him no choice, but to choose to become a real man so he can be with her everyday and experience life. Unfortunately, he gets his wish. After a passionate night of love, a terrible tragedy occurs that severs the couple from each other forever. This accident leaves him angry and wondering why this had to happen. Guess what buddy, welcome to the real world. As his old angel buddy tells him – that's just life. Great message, huh? Clears the pain right up. The film ends with him swimming in the ocean, obviously embracing his humanity. I feel better all ready.

The whole film hinges on whether or not you believe his becoming human was "worth it." If you believe that it was, you probably thought this was an amazingly beautiful love story with a powerful message. I just didn't buy it. Not to mention that I had a hard time believing this vibrant, intelligent, woman would fall for someone like Seth. He may be good-looking, but he's stiff as a board and has no personality. Celestial being or not, he's just not a person you would be attracted to. Both actors do well with what they're given, but their performances were not enough to keep me interested or make me believe this story. Andre Braugher and Dennis Franz are also very good, especially Franz as an ex-angel who dispenses advice to Seth. As far as I'm concerned this whole angel craze could end with this movie. I guess I'm just an old-fashioned girl at heart. I like my romantic leads with both feet in this world. This was a popular movie so I guess some people liked it, but I can't really recommend it for any reason unless you like boring movies about death and angels.



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