Angel Eyes (2001)
Main cast: Jennifer Lopez (Sharon Pogue), Jim Caviezel (Catch), Terrence Dashon Howard (Robby), Sonia Braga (Josephine Pogue), Jeremy Sisto (Larry), Victor Argo (Carl Pogue), and Monet Mazur (Kathy)
Director: Louis Mandoki

Hmm, Jennifer Lopez really can act and her one-shot brilliance in Out Of Sight may not be that much a fluke after all. She and my new boyfriend (joking, lawyers!) Jim Caviezel act their chops out in Angel Eyes, a half-baked movie riddled with so many absurdities that it becomes almost blatantly manipulative.

I mean, picture this. Once upon a time, hard-biting cop Sharon saves a man from a car accident that claimed his wife and son. Later, the same man Catch saves Sharon from being shot by some hoodlum, and they bond and fall in love. Can you say "fate" and "destiny"? Meanwhile, Sharon has to deal with the fact that her mother is renewing her vows with the phsyically abusive husband of hers. And Sharon's own brother is starting to show signs of being a wife-beater. Sharon once arrested her father for domestic abuse, and now, to her dismay, her whole family is treating her like an outcast. Meanwhile, Catch cannot recover from the loss of his wife and son, and lives in denial. Sharon's attempt to help him accept his past only causes him to break.

That's fine. I must admit I find this angle romantic. But really, look at Catch. A man who just walks out on his past, lives on nothing but long, flowing trenchcoats (I admit, Caviezel looks gorgeous in them), and wait, he can still go back to his past if he wants to? What is he, some sort of Bill Clinton figure? How about bank, insurance, mortgage, whatever? And how is Catch earning that much to keep himself trenchcoated anyway? And how can a man who doesn't want to remember his last name and all get a phone?

Still, Lopez and Caviezel pack in the performances of their lives. Their characters' romance just aches with poignant moments and the each really shines in his or her respective final emotional scenes as they deal with their past. In a way, Angel Eyes is a beautiful story of healing. But what's up with the waterfall setting for the love scene? Waterfall is so insurance-commercial contrived.

I also appreciate this movie's not giving any quick, easy resolution to Sharon's problems with her family. The movie promises a bright ending for her, maybe even her moving on with Catch, and that's good. I mean, I love movies that doesn't offer a complete resolution by the movie's last scene, ie there is full stop after the end, there and then. In Angel Eyes, life for Sharon and Catch goes on, filled with promises of new beginnings. It's all so lovely and cathartic.

I can argue that the entire set-up is flawed, and that Angel Eyes is a pretentious romantic weepie. But with Lopez and Caviezel leading the way, I am more than happy to follow their story. Uneven, contrived, and flawed maybe, but this movie hits all my right buttons most successfully.

Rating: 89

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