Simply Angelic

A supernatural thriller that is anything but.

Here's a movie which has some unusual aspects to it, but at the end of it all, turns into just another soppy, meaningless home-movie replicant. Oh, and don't forget, Jennifer Lopez is in it too. Pathetic, really.

Sharon Pogue (Lopez) is a cop with the Chicago Police, all tough and no-nonsense with a calm assurance of her own. Except when it comes to her personal life. That's when she crumbles into a hapless, confused individual who can't get along with people and is losing her grip on her personal life. So, out comes her aggression when dealing with the criminals on her beat, causing her partner Robbie more than a little concern regarding her mental make-up. Add to this, her family life is in an uproar, the reasons for which gradually emerge.

It turns out that ten years back she had personally arrested her father, fed up with him continuously beating her mother. Which tragically, resulted in her being ostracised by her family, who felt she should have let things take their natural course.

In comes Catch. A mysterious fellow who keeps walking the streets with a haunted look in his eyes, he appears harmless but it's clear that there are hidden demons which trouble him. He performs little acts of kindness, but in a very distracted, surreal way, almost as if he's watching himself from a distance. This is really the best plot of the movie, because we can never figure out whether Catch is a kind of idiot savant (Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Main") or a guy waiting to explode (Michael Douglas in "Falling Down").

Catch steps into Sharon's life by saving her from being shot by a gangster. From there, he steps into he friend's circle, her apartment and finally her bedroom. Sharon can't seem to make any headway with him or her family, where her parents are about to renew their marriage vows. So, everything is pretty much down in the dumps.

As is the rest of the movie. From here on, Sharon falls in love with Catch and tries to figure him out. She also tries to get in with her family and get accepted by them. Both ploys pretty much fall flat. And here's the biggest disappointment of the movie - it turns out that the only thing wrong with Catch is the fact that he lost his wife and son in a car accident and blames himself for it. Hereafter, the picture turns into one of those HBO home movies with no meaning and a rather pointless ending. Quite disappointing, really, after all the expectations and the strangeness surrounding Catch.

The direction is quite insipid and uninspiring. It keeps drifting between Sharon and Catch, and doesn't really do much justice to either story. Repeated memory flashbacks are fine, but when they don't lead anywhere and don't explain much, they serve very little purpose except to annoy. The scenes are jerky, not detailed enough and skip ahead just when they are about to get interesting.

The biggest flaw as far as I am concerned is the mishandling of Catch's character. Here for a change was a genuinely ambivalent character, with shades of darkness and lots of potential for a mystical turn of events and what happens? He turns out to have a suppressed memory problem thanks to a car accident. Most disappointing. And if you're wondering what's with the title of the film - well, so am I.

There are only two people who the film really concentrates on - Lopez and Caviezel. Lopez has ample opportunity to showcase her talents, with some totally unnecessary scenes of her stripping down to her birthday suit. Apart from that, she is very unconvincing as a tough person, forget being a tough cop. Caviezel is quite good, as far as his character allows him to be. With his long trenchcoat and his haunted look, he looks like some kind of fallen angel. The rest of the cast is absurdly wasted, popping in and out and then just being abruptly shut out, especially her partner, Robbie. The cast's apathy towards the script is pretty evident in the wooden acting.

Don't fall for the title - there's nothing angelic about this film. In fact, at the end of it, you would probably be asking for a heavenly release.

This article was first published on 27 Jan 2002.