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Angel Eyes (Luis Mandoki) 2001

   

    I must admit didnít see the Jennifer Lopez vehicle Angel Eyes in a theater, but I think that the film is one that would probably that works better on the small screen anyway. Despite its A-list talent, the filmís production values are closer to those of a TV movie than a major motion picture, and most dialogue scenes are rife with small continuity errors. Many shots simply donít match up, and the physical production of the movie seems haphazard at best. The direction by Luis Mandoki, is wildly uneven, and attempts to inject some flair into a film that works best when itís at its most stripped down. Camera trickery abounds, and next to none of it has any positive effect.  Still, despite its technical shoddiness, much about the movie works. The plot, simple as it is, doesnít get in the way of the lead actors (Jennifer Lopez and Jim Caviezel), who imbue this sentimental, but never overstated, material with an unfaltering sense of absolute conviction. The movie, which is about as low key as Hollywood melodrama ever gets, is utterly guileless, but itís precisely this sincerity that ultimately makes it endearing.

   

    Even though at the start of the movie, itís tough to tell where Angel Eyesí story is going (is it a cop drama? a supernatural story? a romance?), the film doesnít try to trick us or take us in bold new directions. It unfolds, instead, with a quiet respect toward its characters, and moves their stories naturally toward a sensible conclusion. The most surprising element of the film is its mellowness, and instead of getting swept up in the eventual romance that dominates its running time, it stays grounded by reality, and just because the plot remains relatively straightforward, doesnít mean that the emotions that get stirred up do. So much of the filmís success lies on the shoulders of the two leads, and they never make a false step in their characterizations. Lopez has great lips for pouting, and this somber script gives her ample opportunity to flex those skills, though sheís equally convincing when handling a firearm. Caviezelís spacey demeanor slowly slides away to reveal some very real anguish. Together, they have enough erotic charm to power the movie through the rough spots. Itís a flawed film, to be sure, but thereís something about Angel Eyes that wins you over. The movieís message, which states, ďThings donít have to be perfect,Ē definitely applies here. Despite its weaknesses, Iíd give it a marginal recommendation. Teen girls, at least, should eat it up.

 

* * 1/2 

06-24-02 

Jeremy Heilman