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A Wearied Disappointment - NOTE: Some Plot Spoilers in Review
on September 20, 2008
The first hour of this film follows the majesty, strength of "Wings of Desire" (Himmel Uber Berlin). The otherworldy and worldly resonate together on the screen. Philosophy, compassion, the Angel longing for Life is here again, played out again and again, for the first hour; I was entranced.
But when the Angel becomes Man, becomes Karl Engel, the film begins to lose focus, the pathos is weakened and characters becomes hard to relate to, especially Cassiel (now Karl Engel in human form). He becomes a thief, an alcoholic, gets mixed up with a mobster, does him a favor and from then on, everything becomes convoluted and strained, the plot faltering, the philosophy filled with platitudes. Even Willem Defoe's character becomes less intriguing and Raphaela (played by Kinksi) just another ball to jungle in the mess. Throw in the fact that the mobster was born in Germany and raised in America and finds his sister, the one who stayed behind during the second World War and you get the idea. (Even writing this review, I feel convoluted...)
And the ending, my word, so many loose ends and Wim Wenders expects the audience to just ignore them in the pseudo-grandeur of the last five minutes. Not to mention the anti-climatic antics of Karl Engel.
In Wim Wender's first film about angels becoming human, he remained faithful to his vision from the beginning. In this one, he starts out on one note, tries to Hollywoodize it with the next note, only attempting to go back to his original idea in the end. It feels like he started making a house of card, stopped used the cards, began to use domino pieces - the thing collapses and he goes back to using cards.
If you loved the first film, watch only the first hour of this. It should have been a short film. The only thing great that came out of this movie was the U2 music video, "Faraway, So Close" which I feel captures more of the magic of Wim Wenders' first film than this 'movie'.