CITY OF ANGELS
After losing a patient, heart surgeon Maggie Rice (Meg Ryan) questions
her validity and that of her profession. Though she bounces back after a
more successful surgery, she still has the feeling that she is not in control;
"that nothing nothing is in my hands," she says.
That feeling comes from the invisible presence by her side, whose name is
Seth (Nicholas Cage).
Seth had arrived at the hospital to escort the unfortunate first patient
into the Great Beyond, but was so intrigued with Dr. Rice's dedication to
keeping the man alive that he couldn't leave. Eventually he begins to show
himself to her, and though she at first confuses him with an overzealous
Christian, she can't help being intrigued. This mysterious man, who keeps
appearing out of nowhere, seems to know her better than she knows herself.
As the two spend more and more time together, they learn more and more about
each other and their separate worlds. Finally, frustrated by his need for
feeling, Seth takes a plunge that makes him feel more than he ever bargained
This is a beautiful film in many ways. John Seale's (The English Patient)
cinematography is lovely, with sweeping helicopter shots above the highest
edifices of Los Angeles where angels are perched like so many silent ravens
in their long black coats, watching over mankind. Although they sometimes
appear a little spooky (they're literally everywhere, invisible to the "mortals"
who scurry about their petty business day to day), one eventually gets a
comfortable sense of being insulated by these benign visitors. Silberling's
artful images create a dual reality, with angels sitting and standing amongst
us all, reading our thoughts, watching our lives, at once protective and
envious of our tangible existence.
The chemistry between Cage and Ryan is tangible, too, and when their minds and bodies finally meld, the delivery is subtle enough to be breathtaking. Cage portrays his first feelings exquisitely; he literally jumps into mortal life with both feet, and loves the splash, savoring everything from bodysurfing to Bosc pears. Sensitive supporting performances by Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue) and André Braugher (Homicide: Life On The Street) add balance to this beautiful, poignant story, making for a fully satisfying production. ****½
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