City Of Angels

Meg Ryan cries inhumanly large tears in City Of Angels, a new film based on (although you wouldn't know it from the posters) Wim Wenders' Wings Of Desire. Of course when reworking a film as acclaimed as Wings Of Desire, it only makes sense to try to distance the adaptation from the original. But why even try to remake it? It's difficult to imagine a movie more of its time and place—in this case, mid-1980s Berlin—than Wenders' original. To solve this problem, director Brad Silberling and writer Dana Stevens decided to concentrate on making a fairly conventional love story, or at least as conventional a love story as movies about angels can be. Ryan plays a heart surgeon who one day senses the presence of angel Nicolas Cage in her operating room. Cage falls in love with her. Because he's an angel, there are some difficulties. If it weren't for the angelic element, which seems like an excuse to throw in some New Age homilies, City Of Angels might as well be Kissing A Fool. It wouldn't be much different if Cage, instead of playing an angel, played a character who must overcome something like agoraphobia or an addiction to painkillers before he can win Ryan's heart. Still, it doesn't work even as a simple romance. Silberling, who does throw in some striking imagery now and then, has kept the meditative, almost hypnotic tone of his source. But while this approach worked for the original, it makes the slight material here seem so low-key it barely registers. At least Dennis Franz, as a former angel, livens up his scenes, and Ryan is less intolerable than usual. Meanwhile, the always-interesting Cage does a good job pretending he's in a better movie. But he's not.

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