CITY OF ANGELS, 1998
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz, Colm Feorce
Guardian angel, Seth, moves invisible through the city of Los Angeles along with thousands of other angels protecting the civilians and/or taking them to Heaven when it's their time to die. But when taking an older gentleman's spirit away, Seth believes he is seen by the doctor overseeing the man's operation, and falls in love with her. He begins contemplating becoming human to spend a lifetime with her. REVIEW:
We (the American movie goer) must have had a thing for movies involving ghosts and angels during the 1990's. We had “Ghost”, “Angels in the Outfield” and “City of Angels” (and I'm sure there were others too that I'm just not remembering without looking stuff up). In “City of Angels”, one such invisible entity falls in love with a human woman... talk about a long distance relationship (the commute from L.A. to Heaven must be hell during rush hour).
Seth is a guardian angel residing in Los Angeles where he (along with thousands of other angels) watch over the people of the city, unseen. In some cases he (and his buddy angel Cassiel) help to make people feel better and more secure, sometimes they step in to prevent chaos, sometimes they come to take the souls of the dying to Heaven, and their favorite passtime is going to the library and listening to the thoughts of people as they read literature.
Dr. Maggie Rice is a heart surgeon who rides her bike to work every day and sometimes wishes she were a pediatrician instead.
Seth and Maggie's paths cross when Maggie operates on a gentleman whose soul Seth has come to take to Heaven. While trying to save the man, Maggie looks directly at the invisible Seth, making eye contact and saying that the man isn't going anywhere. Of course, she doesn't actually see Seth and she has no say in the matter of who's soul stays and who's goes, but Seth believes that she really did look right at him.
Intrigued by the good lady doctor, Seth follows her around, watching over her life and becomes drawn to her beauty and kindness. He allows himself to be seen and heard by her and convinces her that he's a friend of Nathan Messinger- the next man Maggie has to perform surgery on.
Seth has more interactive meetings with Maggie and she starts to fall for him just as he falls in love with her.
One day, while invisibly watching Maggie in the room of her patient, Seth is thrown for a loop when Nathan announces he knows Seth is there. Seth makes himself visible for Nathan and questions him on how Nathan knew Seth was there. Nathan admits that he was once an angel and purposely “fell” to Earth to become human and marry the human woman he'd fallen in love with.
Not sure he wants to become, human, Seth tells Maggie who he really is. Feeling deceived (but believing him), Maggie pushes Seth away, causing him to make a choice: stay an angel and just watch, or become human to be with her.
The concept of “City of Angels” is pretty cool- angels among us and one wants to be one of us. It's something that has been done before, but is still very cool. I guess I fall in with the rest of America and am a sucker for stories involving invisible entities interacting with humans (in fact, I even wrote and directed a short film involving an invisible friend entitled “Frankie” that you can watch at http://youtu.be/8ZYmZFoX-wk ). Unfortunately, while the concept of “City of Angels” is cool, its execution leaves something to be desired.
I can't for the life of me figure out what Maggie (played by Meg Ryan) sees in Seth (played by Nicholas Cage). We the audience knows he's an angel, but she doesn't. So we have to take their meetings at face value in order to see them from her aspect... and when we do, Seth becomes an absolute CREEPER! He's always hanging around stalking Maggie, revealing that he knows more about her than he should, and he's way too personal with her in their early meetings. If Maggie were a real person rather than a character in a movie, she would be creeped out by Seth and see him for the obvious stalker he is and run the other way! There is no way Seth should have been able to woo her over with his creepy (albeit well meaning) ways. Their relationship is therefore completely unrealistic.
I would comment on the mediocre to poor dialogue, but I just pointed out how unrealistic the main relationship is, so it just follows suit that the dialogue is, at times, equally unrealistic.
To give credit where it's due, this was probably Cage's best performance in recent memory... but being that it's Nicholas Cage, that's not necessarily saying much. On the other hand, Meg Ryan also did very well with what she was given in terms of a role and dialogue, so kudos to the cast I suppose.
“City of Angels” is considered by many women I know as a “classic” love story. I wonder how many of them are basing that off when they first saw it in 1998 when they (and I) were in high school. Watching it now, I felt like the movie was very middle-of-the-road.
I give “City of Angels” a 2.5 out of 5.
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