Meg Ryan, Nicolas Cage, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz
Director: Brad Silberling
Running Time: 1hr 57mins
Opening Date: June 19
Cage works in mysterious ways.
Critics armed with caustic cynicism may well laugh at the soaring, saccharine emotion saturating City of Angels but there's no disputing that the American public loved it. Sure, its US success could simply be put down to the pull of Ryan and Cage, but that would be doing a disservice to the film.
After last year's plethora of action blockbusters, there has been a noticeable audience swing towards emotionally driven movies. The positioning of Sliding Doors, The Object of My Affection and As Good As It Gets in box-office top tens suggests a widespread desire to be fed some humanism rather than just effects-driven fodder.
Cage is Seth, one of many unseen angels who hover around the needy and dying and hang out in the local library. Fascinated by the range of human emotions he encounters, Seth is frustrated by his celestial restraints; he cannot feel, touch, cry, or die. Preparing to take a dying man to - well, it's not clear where, but it's definitely not Macdonalds - after his heart surgery fails, Seth falls head over heels for the operating surgeon, Maggie (Ryan).
Forcing himself to be visible to her, Seth begins a-courtin' and Maggie, at a stage in her life full of existential angst, is drawn towards him. Seth's growing love for her crystallizes his desire to become mortal whereas Maggie, though deeply in love, is confused by Seth's innocence and mysterious backround.
If this sounds familiar it's because City of Angels is a remake of Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire. His cult art-house movie set in Berlin has been given the full Hollywood schmaltz treatment; the political eradicated, the love story prioritized. Yet what both films share are stunning visual sequences where the angels stand poised over the city, the urban landscape transformed through their eyes.
Cage and Ryan's complete conviction in their characters results in a movie which does press primal buttons. We all long for the ultimate love, support through life and comfort in death and here it's offered in easy-to-swallow tablet form. It may end up doing more for the Christian church than the Pope appearing in Levis.
City of Angels photo copyright Warner
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