If you know my mother, this is almost always a guarantee that there's SOMETHING worth checking out. As parents are annoyingly want to be on occassion, she was right.
Much like how I felt about The Game last season, this has got to be one of the most under-rated films of the year. The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking at times, the acting is supurb, the story is touching ...
Here's the deal, folks: This is a good story, bottom line. Very loosely, the world is crawling with angels. (Well, you would assume the world. We only ever get to see Los Angeles, which was obviously done for the sake of the title, but I can't imagine that L.A. is the only city with these guys.) "Messengers of God", I believe is what they really called themselves, but both intuitive reasoning and the name of the movie give away what they're representing. From the moment you realize what they are, you know you're not dealing with a normal story with biblical themes.
The angels walk around, dressed utterly in black, complete with ankle-length black trenchcoat. You originally are led to believe that their only purpose is to lead mortal souls away when they die (thus the black "angel of death" look is quickly accepted), but it's soon shown that they're more. Much more.
I've thought and thought about it, and sadly, I can only come up with one way to really put my overall impression of these "Messengers of God" and, indeed, the first third of the movie. Have you ever read anything by Neil Gaiman? Well, I'm betting that the screenwriter had too. In what was probably one of the most engrossing parts of the film, the Messengers of God walk, unseen, through the people of Los Angeles, listening to their thoughts and guiding them, giving them strength where needed. As I watched it, I was reminded of the truth that EVERYONE has a story to tell, if you just take the time to listen to it. This is one of Gaiman's greatest writing strengths .... and also a different kind of review altogether. Essentially, I make this comparison so that those others familiar with Gaiman's work can get an even better idea of what this movie offered: brief insights into inconsequential characters which serves to make the surroundings and major characters that much more real, and the modernization of ancient ideas so that today's thinking person can understand them.
Well, besides having a pretty darned nifty atmosphere and background, you've also got a pretty good love story going on. It must've been good, romance is hardly ever "my thing". This is the kind of romance that kinda makes you wonder if such a selfless love IS possible and then makes you believe that it is. I hesitate to say anything more, being as paranoid as ever about spoilerage ... suffice it to say that while I still have trouble believing that they actually did what I was merely joking about, it was a DAMNED touching ending.
And hey, if you need anymore reasons to see it, here are a few: Meg Ryan. Nicholas Cage. Dennis Franz's butt ....... okay, stratch the last one. But if you missed this pathetically under-plugged gem in the theater, do yourself a favour and catch it on home video. And stock up on kleenex.