Directed by Brad Silberling
Written by Dana Stevens
I've never started a season with such a good movie before, I hope this will be of good omen for the following movies! Loosely inspired by Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, City of Angels is a perfect example of romantic drama which also features a deeper meaning and gives some inspiration for thinking and discussion.
The story obviously speaks about angels whose main responsibility is to give comfort to humans and especially to the souls after the death of their body. Hence, they spend some time in hospitals, and it is in an operating room that the angel Seth meets Maggie, a surgeon, and falls in love with her. He reveals himself and spends some time speaking with her, although his nature prevents him from feeling her touch. Will he be able to leave his immortal life and become human to pursue her love?
The first thing that caught me has been the photography, featuring spectacular aerial view of the city and superb sunrises on the beach full of angels dressed in black. Other impressive scenes were filmed inside the library were the angels used to stay, listening to people's thoughts, something that reminded me of R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts" video.
The description of the angels, their mission, origin or nature have been left vague, many questions can be raised to which the movie provides no direct answer. However, I think this is a positive point, every attempt of explanation would probably end up in something either superficial or somewhat theological which is obviously out of the scope of this movie. I also liked all the details that characterised the angels, from their reunion on the beach to listen to the celestial choirs, to the notebook they used to write their observations on the humans.
The end of a movie is very important for me, and City of Angels has an incredibly sad and touching finale. Not only the ending of the story is dramatic, but also the last scene, although not dramatic in its own, is very affecting. I have to admit that I was almost crying during the closing credits, listening to the song "Uninvited" by Alanis Morissette that was the perfect completion of the great soundtrack featured throughout the whole movie.
The movie is not perfect, of course, but there are only a couple of noticeable defects. First of all the beginning is a bit slow, although not boring, as the characters are introduced. Then the middle part is a bit too much centered on the sweet love story and tends to become a bit too melting... However, the positive aspects are far more important and made me easily forget any deficiency.
Finally, one of the aspect I appreciated of this movie has been the metaphorical meaning. Maybe this is something that I extrapolated from the movie but that was not necessarily intended to be like that. Anyway, I think the whole story can be seen as a parable about free will, choices and destiny; that is, our ability to select between different options and the external constraints that make things happen outside your control and that we simply have to accept, regardless of how adverse they are.