Film Review: City Of Angels

I’m sure it’s going to place me into the minority but I actually like City Of Angels. It’s not a movie I will regularly sit down to watch. It’s not a “go to” film. But I have always managed to look past it’s flaws and see the simplicity in it’s heart and the warmth that extends from it.

Yes it’s a rom-com, and a pretty fluffy one at that, holding up a huge banner that simply reads “I’m about Love”. It’s not going to tax you as a film, but that’s missing the point, it doesn’t want to tax you, it just wants to let you spend some time away from the troubles, stress and worries of real life and lose yourself in a fanciful world of make believe. And I have always found that it does that perfectly.

Nicholas Cage - City Of Angels

I also think that Nicolas Cage is actually pretty good in the film. It’s not got the power of Bringing Out The Dead, it’s not Con Air or Face-Off or even Gone In 60 Seconds, but compared to some of the performances that have followed, Ghost Rider, it’s more than acceptable. I think in part that is down to the fact that he doesn’t really have to act. The part requires a childlike naivety. A misunderstanding. An exploration. He’s basically tasked with looking either lost or surprised. And so the role is never really that taxing.

That is beginning to sound though as if I am lambasting Cage as an actor, I’m not. While the part is emotional reduced, he still packs a punch and really connects with you. His pains and desires. The longings he feels; are conveyed with a really understated touch that mean you don’t ever really notice they are happening but you feel the end result. You connect straight to him. He looks right and he feels right.

Meg Ryan - City Of Angels

Meg Ryan is more problematical as she doesn’t really look like her character. She seems too light, too soft, to be a surgeon. I’m not saying all doctors need to be cold, withdrawn and weather beaten, but I always feel that Ryan looks just a little too ‘heart on her sleeve’ to really cope with the stress of her chosen profession. And while her performance opposite Cage, when together, is believable and interesting and emotionally exploratory in a way that you engage with; when left to her own devices, the film starts to feel weak and wayward. I felt when she was on screen by herself that her character, and the plot became a little independent of the overall story. It’s loses it’s way. And there is one moment involving her initials on a name tag that is cringe worthy.

Yes, I fully admit that City Of Angels is cheesy. And certainly, for the majority of the running time, predictable but once again I don’t really mind. I think it’s a case that the film just imagines the same idea of unfrequented love as I do. It may be looking at something that cannot happen. That is to idyllic. But it’s the dream we all hold. And it’s version just matches up to mine in a way that always wins me over. That always tugs beautifully at my heart.

I must admit though, that I have always found the film third of the film a little too out of place to really work with the rest of the film. I just find the route it takes pushes the boundaries of reality just a little bit too far. It takes everything just one step from the romance it creates, from the sensible and plausible, and loses all the tension and impact. I understand why it does it this. Why it needs to to look at all the emotional responses possible. To complete the circle of love and relationship, but it feels wrong and out of place. It feels out of character.

Angels Sunrise - City Of Angels

It takes the idea of the dream and attempts to make it real. And it didn’t need to.

I think underneath it all, for every argument for and against; for every plot hole, question of impossible science and implausible religion; I like City Of Angels for one, straightforward, reason: Part of me wishes that you really could hear music in the sunrise, or that there is an angel sitting in the room watching me type, and that maybe, just maybe, I could fall in love with the passion and intensity this film believes is possible. Because when it all boils down to it, that’s what all of us want. To feel and to be, Loved.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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