City of Angels

Even angels have urges. And Seth (Nicolas Cage), if you'll excuse the ironic name, is an angel without wings who is carrying a big one underneath his overcoat. Eternity is ecstatic, especially every time sunset rolls around and you go to the beach to get the buzz, but when that someone special comes along, even an angel might be tempted to give up those endless hours of celebration and do-gooding for the mere taste of a pear. Will our celestial being sacrifice the wonders of his existence for the agile hands of Maggie (Meg Ryan), a down-to- earth cardiac surgeon with a practical mind whose heart is about to be stolen? Her mission is to save lives while his is to guide them to the other side. He makes himself visible in the world as we know it and so begins his pursuit of Maggie. They become entangled with all sorts of philosophical and practical questions that neither he nor she ever had to be bothered with before. Is immortality worth sacrificing to become a human being on the streets of Los Angeles? Who is this stranger with remarkable powers and an attractive aura who seems to have appeared from no place in particular, and what's more without any traceable past? And why doesn't he bleed? This would naturally be a point of great concern to any reputable doctor. Will true love find its way to bring these two together? What fools these mortals and immortals be!

Based on the German film "Himmel uber Berlin", it looks as if some producers still feel a film has to be retailored for American audiences. (On the other hand, not everybody shares an equal appreciation of Wim Wenders.) The late producer Dawn Steel saw the original film and recognized its potential. By introducing the two main characters early in the film, the possibility arises to explore the contrast between a woman with an empirical mind and an aversion to the seemingly impossible and an angel who is drawn by this rational, yet imperfect creature while showing them both jolted out of their equilibrium.

Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, don't you just want to hug them both? Even Dennis Franz as Messinger, an ex-member of the legions of honor, gets a rare chance to show his soft and tender side.

In preparation, Ryan spent a fascinating (and somewhat odd) research period by viewing open heart surgeries as well as practicing on pig's hearts. Cage's character as the rebel angel, on the other hand, would have, of necessity, precluded a parallel study to any extent greater than that of reading Matthew Fox's inspirational and scientific (?) book The Physics of Angels. The result is sort of like "Ghost" meets "Les Chose de la Vie".

Heavenly images by DP John Seale. Heavenly production design by Lilly Kilvert. Heavenly costumes by Shay Cunliffe. Out of this World soundtrack!

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett