I was watching the film “City of Angles” the other day and beside the premise being a bit cooky and the love story a little soppy, there is something about this film that makes me sigh. For me it is the amazing way we are made to feel and see everyday experiences in a new light thanks to the long scenes where nothing much happens but the actors are reading/ smelling/ touching/ hearing or tasting something. The great soundtrack by Gabriel Yared compliments those beautifully. At several points during the film did I think: Wow!, sometimes because of the music, sometimes because of the story and sometimes because of what was said.
The music is the perfect mix of meaningful songs (that a musical amateur like me would otherwise never have heard of) and original composition, thoughtful and touching. I am listening to it right now. The story is a little soppy and the premise, well, let’s not get into that, but throughout the whole film, from the very beginning to the very end, the actors are showing us how it feels to them to experience many things. For example in one scene Nicolas Cage (Seth) asks Meg Ryan (Maggie), what a pear tastes like. She asks him whether he’s never tasted pear before and he replies that he doesn’t know what a pear tastes like for her. She goes on to eat the pear and describe its taste. It made me think about my everyday experiences and how special they really are and that I spent far too much time obsessing about the future and way too little time in the moment. When, in our hectic lives, do we ever take the time really enjoy a piece of fruit we are eating, or the sun shining in our face? I have seconds where I feel a little like that sometimes but I never enjoy them as much as I should because there are things I have to do and places I have to get to and I am in a hurry, often. Watching this film made me remember that there is more to life than running from one activity and place to another. I have decided to remember it more often and to linger the next time I have a moment like that.
Last but definitely not least, there is some amazing dialogue going on in this film. My favourite piece is the following, between a former angel-turned-human Nathaniel and the protagonist Seth:
Nathaniel Messinger: “Listen, kid: he [God] gave these bozos the greatest gift in the universe — you think he didn’t give it to us, too?”
Seth: “Which gift?”
Nathaniel Messinger: “Free will, brother. Free will.”
I had to stop the movie here because this struck me dumb. It is such a profound truth that we never remember it: We have free will and we use it every day. And it is an amazing gift from God. We really should appreciate it a lot more because without it we would be nothing. God loves us so much that he gave us the power to do whatever we want with our lives, he let’s us make our own mistakes because that is the only way we can learn. So, using a ridiculous story, this film manages to teach us something about ourselves and our normal everyday lives. I am impressed.