This post is part of a larger feature on my friend Fletch's site, Blog Cabins, entitled "Cagefest: The Nic Cage Film Festival". For a selection of Mr. Cage's films, Fletch had a blogger present either a PRO or a CON argument. This is my PRO review for City of Angels. You should definitely head over to Cagefest to read some of the other reviews when you get a chance.
I've had a growing impatience lately with movies that depict love unrealistically. Like, most of them.
You know what I'm talking about: the couple sees each other, has a few furtive conversations, and suddenly they're "in love" and are willing to move heaven and earth for each other. That is SO NOT how it works. In real life, love is immensely complicated, hard to come by, and requires effort, time, and sacrifice.
So why do I love City of Angels so much, given that it's the textbook example of this "instant love" phenomenon? Easy. I don't accept love as the turning point of the story.
If you don't know the movie, here's a big fat SPOILER ALERT... and now I'll fill you in. The premise of City of Angels is that an angel (Nicolas Cage) falls so deeply in love with a surgeon (Meg Ryan) that he chooses to forsake his immortal life and become a human, just so that he can be with her.
It's a sweet idea, if that was what really happened in the movie. Oh, they definitely feel lust for one another. Longing, too. But I think the real draw for our angel is not love, but life.
Let me explain. There's a lot of imagery in City of Angels of the simple, sensual pleasures of being human: the way a pear tastes; sunlight filtering through trees; the bracing ecstasy of a really hot shower. I get that stuff completely, because as anybody who knows me well can tell you, Nayana is all about the sensual pleasures*. I find it really easy to lose myself in things like dazzling sunsets, light reflecting on water, kickass thunderstorms, cherry cheesecake... So if I were in Seth the angel's position, would I give up immortality and the ability to sit on overhead freeway signs in order to experience all these things? Hells yeah.
I guess my point is that the real romance of this movie is not the Nic Cage/Meg Ryan slobberfest, but the romance between a human being and life itself. Get it?
*OK, perv, that's not what I mean. Sensual. We could talk about the other thing too, but that's not the topic of the day.