At the end of an article about movies and accountability, I feel I have to own up to the unlikeliest movie to win me over in 2001--Angel Eyes. Yes, that one with Jennifer Lopez, but in my defense, also with Jim Caviezel from The Thin Red Line (and my husband in some other, happier version of my life). It was for him I snuck into a matinee of the worst titled, worst advertised major feature in recent memory (this was before Disney did its best to deep six Lilo & Stitch--ed). Now I can' t make a case for Angel Eyes being a great film, because it does have some substantial disqualifying flaws. But it is strange and lovely in its own right.
Another confession: romance is not my genre. To my mind, the best ones end with everybody dead or bleeding, like The English Patient or The Fly. Angel Eyes begins with death and bleeding. In the first scene, J-Lo's character Sharon (hey!) Pogue, a police officer, attends an unseen casualty in an ugly multi-car accident. Then, "one year later," there's more carnage! A drive-by shooter targets a cafe where Sharon and a bevy of cops are eating breakfast. Catch (Caviezel, with a borderline stupid name even after it is explained), who for obscure reasons has been Sharon's part time stalker, witnesses the event and follows when Sharon chases the shooter into an empty stadium corridor. The shooter fires at her, hitting her in the shoulder, but when he takes fatal aim at her head, Catch tackles him and saves her life. Between this occurrence and the earlier car accident (surprise! Sharon later realizes it was Catch she comforted in the aftermath), Angel Eyes does a number on the "meeting cute" business. Even when the movie is predictable, and it often is, it is rescued by moments of emotional impact as great as that gunshot Sharon takes to the shoulder.
Dressed like one of the angels from Wings of Desire (or its American version City of Angels), Catch roams the city doing good deeds with a smile and manner so beatific he seems positively retarded (in a glamorous, movie star kind of way). But he can't seem to close doors, and is prone to outbursts of anger and regret. In his first scene, Catch turns off the lights in a parked car. The car's owner emerges from a club, and starts pushing Catch, demanding to know what he stole. After a few weak and unheeded attempts at an explanation, Catch slaps the man and shouts, "Wake up! Wake up! I helped you. I helped you." He walks away, then turns back and says, "I'm sorry."
Catch Caught (Jim Caviezel & Jennifer Lopez in Angel Eyes)
As a child, Sharon blew the whistle on her abusive father, and, by God, she will stop her brother from going down that road, too. But though what she does likely saves her family, they hate her for it. So she spends her time going on miserable dates, cracking wise with her fellow officers, and looking for excuses to beat the tar out of perps. There is violence in her blood as suffocating as his sorrow, and they both struggle mightily to keep from succumbing. Finally, they have to say goodbye to their families to reclaim their lives, and the movie has an uncommonly deep respect for the pain in that choice.
Movies are something like blind dates. You let the various marketing departments set you up with likely candidates and hope for the best. Frankly, there are a lot of movie equivalents of players and juvenile jerks out there. But sometimes, a dark horse comes a long and really sweeps you off your feet. So even if none of the movies above seem like your type, maybe you could give them a spin anyway. It could be AI or Angel Eyes, but you may just make a love connection.
Nature Boy (Jim Caviezel in Angel Eyes)