Angel Eyes
Directed by Luis Mandoki
Written by Gerald DiPego
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel

 

Angel Eyes

"Angel Eyes" brings together two of the most mismatched leads in film history, and in trying desperately to shoehorn them into a relationship loses whatever credibility it might ever have had. Jennifer Lopez -- bright, tough, articulate, an actress who in just a few films has shown good range and a gift for exposing her emotions and thought processes on screen without fear or self-consciousness - is matched with Jim Caviezel, whose shtick is the introverted, na´ve, late-blooming boyishness of "Frequency" and "The Thin Red Line." It's as bad a mix as I've ever seen.

The film opens with Lopez, as cop Sharon Pogue, trying to save the victim of a traffic accident. "Stay with me! Look at me!" she says as she holds the hand of the unseen victim, trapped behind the wheel of the car. Cut to "One Year Later," when we see her again, bantering with her cop buddies, going out to capture perps, and then in one chase facing death by pistol, when she is unexpectedly saved by mysterioso Caviezel, who goes by the name 'Catch.'

All well and good, except that if you didn't get that it was Caviezel behind the wheel in that accident you're slower than I think you are. "Angel Eyes" tries to convince us that dull, monotonous Catch - supposedly amnesiac because (am I giving something away here? Not unless you've been in the Namibian desert the past fifty years) he lost his wife and son in the accident - is the right guy for bold, brave Sharon. Give me a break.

The film alternates between the hesitant baby-steps each takes toward the other, and the attempts at resolution of Sharon's own family crisis, where years before, Sharon called the police on her abusive father, and had him arrested for beating her mother. He has never forgiven her, and her mother too is mortified that the arrest happened. Now, her parents are renewing their vows, Sharon is sort-of invited to the reception, and she sees that her brother, who as a child took the beatings for Sharon, has started hitting his own wife. This is a story with much more resonance than anything the pathetic Catch can offer.

Catch's story, of course, is that he can't face the loss and start grieving. He's been doing his one good deed per week, by shopping for his dead wife's shut-in mother (Shirley Knight in a nicely understated performance), though he refuses her suggestions that he get on with his life. So the big questions are: Will he accept the love and strength that Sharon gives him? Will he start the grieving process before the film ends? And finally, was this film made in Hollywood? The answer to all three, of course, is a big yes.

"Angel Eyes" is being marketed with hints that there's something supernatural about Caviezel showing up as he does in Sharon's life; it's more likely that it's the studio's version of having them meet cute. I thought that went out in the 1930s. By the way, can anyone tell me what the title means?