City of Angels

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director Brad Silberling
Writers Dana Stevens
Director of Photography: John Seale
Editor: Lynzee Klingman
Music: Gabriel Yared
Production Designer: Lilly Kilvert
Producers: Charles Roven and Dawn Steel
Warner Bros.; PG-13; 112 minutes
Release: 4/98
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Meg Ryan, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz, Colm Feroe, Robin Bartlett, Joanna Merlin and Sarah Dampf

Wings of Desire fans may feel Wim Wenders sold his artistic soul with this glossy, sentimental Hollywood remake of his 1988 black-and-white German masterpiece. And with good reason – compared to the philosophical scope and quiet, brooding beauty of Wings of Desire, City of Angels is a sap-fest. But Wenders does manage to bring his romance back to earth with a touch of tragic fate. Seth (Cage) is one of a fleet of invisible angels who keep watch over LA's inhabitants, comforting the living and leading the recently departed safely to the hereafter. The mortal object of Seth's affection is Dr. Maggie Rice (Ryan), a surgeon who sees him one day during an emotional attempt to resuscitate a patient. Moved by the existential crisis her patient's death causes, Seth appears to Maggie and, with a sensitive pickup line and his soul-searching gaze, just about charms the scrubs off her. That is until she begins to wonder whether this guy's sensitivity makes up for his bizarre lack of other human qualities – like bleeding. When Seth and Maggie learn from a former messenger (Franz) that angels can become mortal, Seth must decide whether he's willing to permanently turn in his wings for Maggie. In the end, City of Angels does manage to offer a glimpse – through the soft-focus glare – of the premise that made Wenders's gritty Berlin counterpart so affecting – that, angels or no, humans need to watch out for one another.

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