Hi! This is an interesting film for me. I first watched it in my early teens, and I didn’t understand what was going on at all. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to unpack the layers of profound wisdom in this movie and gain a vastly greater appreciation for it.
The film begins with a death. It’s an interesting way to start a movie, but it gives a window into how the existence of angels intertwines with human life. The detached vantage point of “celestial beings” Seth and Cassiel is sometimes sad to watch (especially because we never see beyond Earth), but every word that the angelic characters say is packed with wisdom and truth and these characters are so amazing.
The dialogue in this movie holds the same kind of power as Emily Dickinson poetry-so much rich meaning packed into so few words. None of the quotes make much sense out of context, so I won’t put any here, but trust me, all of the dialogue is layered and profound and so important. Unfortunately it’s also very easy to miss, so one has to be paying attention to all the dialogue, and much of the unspoken imagery as well.
The two standout characters from this movie are the angel Cassiel and the human Nathan Messenger. Nathan is a unique character and that is all I can say without spoilers. He starts off as simple comic relief, but his character twist allows him to become a mentor/role model for Seth. Cassiel is Seth’s best friend/sidekick in the angelic realm. He gives Seth various advice and acts as the rule-following foil to Seth’s “rebellious” curiosity.
In addition to the stellar acting and profound concepts, the movie also boasts a phenomenal soundtrack of entirely original songs. Songs such as “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, or “Uninvited” by Alanís Morissette were written specifically for this movie. In addition, perhaps the most well-known song to come from this movie is “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. Everyone knows it as “the song from the sad puppy commercials” but it originated with this movie.
A word on the end of the movie: it is designed to tear out hearts and crush them, but it also shows that beauty and meaning and worth still exist in life even after terrible loss. That is all I can say without spoilers, aside from the fact that only a genius or a nihilist will see it coming.
10/10 for incredible acting, a profound plot, and a fantastic soundtrack as the cherry on top. Watch it, meditate on it, come back to it in a month or a year. Repeat this process and watch the layers of meaning and beauty unfold.
One thought on “City of Angels – A Profound Feast”
Another great review! I agree that it is an incredible film. I recently watched it for the first time on your advice and was impressed by the artistry of the film. The director clearly understands the power of showing feeling through acting, cinematography, and music. Some of the most effecting scenes are told in wordless looks between characters. However, I don’t mean to dismiss the thought provoking dialogue. As you mentioned they don’t make sense out of context but they are quite interesting. It was an intellectually stimulating film and I enjoyed watching it. I’m sure future viewings will be even more rewarding. Thanks for the recommendation Elena!