Ealasaid/ April 12, 1998/ Movie Reviews and Features, Writing

Originally written for The Occidental.

Are you looking for a romantic movie, but don’t feel like seeing Titanic for the umpteenth time? Want to see a beautifully shot film that also has a great cast and characters you can believe in? Then have I got the movie for you.

City of Angels is a love story that doesn’t apologize for not being anything else. Oh, sure, it examines the issue of faith briefly, but for the most part it is simply the tale of Maggie Rice(Meg Ryan), a heart surgeon with a relentlessly scientific outlook on life, and Seth (Nicholas Cage), one of the millions of angels who walk among us unseen, listening to our thoughts, celebrating our lives and deaths, and comforting those in need. Angels are not, and have never been, human, and while they care deeply about us, cannot experience life as we do. So what happens when one of them falls in love with one of us?

When Maggie loses a patient for no explainable reason, her self-confidence is shattered. Although Seth was present to help the dying man, he is drawn to Maggie, and as he tries, unseen, to comfort her he falls in love. Finally, Seth decides to become visible to Maggie, in spite of the risks. Although she is bewildered by Seth’s complete lack of a past and frightened by her attraction to him, Maggie falls in love with him. Fairly standard so far, right? Not quite. When Seth meets an angel who became human and learns that such a thing is possible, he must face the choice between giving up everything he knows to be with Maggie, and remaining an angel.

Both Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan are well known to filmgoers as talented actors, and City of Angels is no exception. As Seth, Cage manages to capture the wonder, compassion, and immortal viewpoint that angels have, and still remain believable. Ryan lights up the screen as Maggie, conveying her character’s confusion at the incredible disruption in her life. The excellent supporting cast includes Dennis Franz as the former angel, and Andre Braugher as Cassiel, Seth’s fellow angel and good friend.

Ryan and Cage have a delightful chemistry on screen, and the romance that blossoms between Seth and Maggie is as believable (in the fantasy world they inhabit, anyway) as it is touching. I’m usually not into romantic films, but even I was touched by their relationship.

So what’s the bottom line? If you’re looking for action, fantastic effects, and the thrill of danger, go see Titanic again. But if you’re looking for a gentle, romantic film, City of Angels is right up your alley.