on 28 June 2005
This is one of Alan Parker's best films. Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a private detective hired by a mysterious client (Robert de Niro) to look for a crooner called Johnny Favourite, who disappeared after World War II. As he gets closer to the truth, the people he talks to about Favourite die in horrible ways. The film is like a nightmare: recrurring, unexplained motifs--a whirring fan and an old-fashioned lift going up and down--that are disturbing, but you don't know why. This is not a film for the faint-hearted--be prepared for lots of killing (although most of it is off-screen) and voodoo. There is a twist in the tail that makes you want to go back and watch it again. This is Rourke's best performance ever, as a man who is slowly falling apart.
on 5 February 2011
People will likely fall into one of two categories of viewer. There will be those who first saw this film on general release some 24 years ago and fell in love with its originality, good acting and wonderful cinematography and there will be those like me who will be viewing the film for the first time. If you are in the latter category I promise not to give any of plot away. I think that it would be a real spoiler to come to this film the first time with any idea of the storyline. While there may be some clever souls who will guess the ending before it unfolds I will be quite happy to admit that it came to me as a complete surprise.
Irrespective of the clever plot and good acting I was completely blown away by the wonderful cinematography. And the picture quality on Blu-ray is absolutely outstanding. The inky detail of the blacks is simply stunning. There are quite a few dark scenes in this movie and the picture quality is every bit as good as the more recent movie, `Dark City'. Furthermore, on Angel Heart the choice of the locations is impressive and the film captures perfectly the atmosphere of mid 50's America.
In my opinion this is very much a film which you will be able to enjoy on repeated viewings, to savour the art of the cinematographer as well as to get a better understanding of the complexity of the plot. Yes, there are several murders and quite a lot of blood but I think you will be doing yourself a disservice if you choose not to buy for that reason. To a great extent the violence is retrospective and not in the same stomach wrenching category of `Saving Private Ryan'.
There are 2 choices of soundtrack, Dolby Stereo and an excellent DTS 5:1 mix. There is also a very good picture in picture menu system for chapter navigation - the film being divided into just 12 chapters. I have nothing but praise for the technical re-mastering of this film. I know that a few people have criticised the quality of the Blu-ray restoration. I can only assume that there must be something wrong with their equipment. Both the video and audio quality is simply amazing. Highly recommended!
on 4 December 2001
A work of genius... atmospheric, gripping, terrifyingly clever. Needs to be watched more than once to pick up on all the subtleties... like Robert de Niro throwing salt over his shoulder before he eats an egg - 'the symbol of the soul'.
Mickey Rourke has made some real duff films but in this he is brilliant, de Niro is as great as he always is and Lisa Bonet smoulders while Courtney Pine's saxophone haunts the film and the great use of lighting, close-ups and camera angles perfects the effects.
This is an intriguing, unusual, beautifully directed, highly atmospheric film that successfully crosses any number of genre: film noir, thriller, mystery, and horror. The plot is simple. In the mid nineteen fifties, a mysterious and slightly sinister business man, Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro), hires Brooklyn gumshoe, Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke), for a missing person case. Angel's investigation, for which he is being paid a princely sum for the time, takes him from Harlem to New Orleans, as he looks for a former crooner named Johnny Favorite, who sometime during the early nineteen forties apparently welched on a business deal with Louis Cypher and hasn't been heard from since.
What happens when Angel gets to New Orleans will be infused with voodoo rites, ritual murders and taboo sex. The Big Easy is hardly that for our erstwhile detective, as he becomes susceptible to a series of initially puzzling flashbacks. Moreover, it seems that everyone with whom he meets, who had a connection to our missing crooner, ends up being savagely murdered. When he meets with a tarot card reader (Charlotte Rampling), it is just the beginning of the end for our increasingly disheveled gumshoe. His introduction to the gorgeous Epiphany (Lisa Bonet), a seventeen year old voodoo queen, later leads to a coupling that is played with singularly wild abandon. Both of these women have a connection to our mysterious missing person, Johnny Favorite, who, it turns out, may have given the Devil a run for his money in the evil department.
Robert De Niro is sensational in the highly stylized, role of Louis Cypher. He imbues the role with just the right amount of sardonic humor and restrained menace so as to make the character memorable. De Niro leaves an indelible imprint on every scene in which he is in. Mickey Rourke, who is in nearly every scene in this film, shows that he has the ability to carry a movie, as he is simply terrific as the private detective who is slowly unraveling. As the film progresses, the toll that the investigation is taking on the tormented Angel is evident on his face. Angst ridden, bleary eyed, and disheveled, Angel is definitely involved in the biggest case of his life. As he gets closer to the truth of what happened to Johnny Favorite, the more his life seems to be spinning out of control. Rourke manages to convey all this, no easy task. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent and adds to the flavor of this delicious gumbo of a film, which is reminiscent of Goethe's Faust. Undoubtedly, this film is one of Alan Parker's best directorial efforts. Bravo!
on 23 August 2006
Without doubt, one of the best films ever made. But be warned, it does not make easy viewing. The themes are disturbing, and it contains much violence, though more in a psychological sense.
The acting is superb. Micky Rourke at his best, and a sad reminder of what a waste of talent he later became. De Niro plays his 'cameo' with great aplomb, almost, but not quite, matching his 'cameo' in The Untouchables.
The cinematography is first class - moody, dark and depressing; empahsising the disturbing subject matter. The flash back scenes are particularly atmospheric and disjointed - to good effect. The symbolism and imagery is also first rate - it's worth listening to Alan Parker's commentary on this, although for some this might spoil their enjoyment, especially if you like reading your own interpretations into things.
The twist at the end is superb, although I suspect many will see it coming a long time before it actually happens. Obviously, I won't give it away!
Overall, quite simply brilliant, and even better now it's been released in this two disk special edition! If you haven't seen this film, now is the time!
on 21 February 2003
Most of Parker's films are visually interesting. This one is viscerally mesmerizing, as well, partly because he captures the essential undulent, oily sleaziness of the Big Easy so adroitly. I lived in New Orleans for five years and can spot a fraudulent, comercially bent take when I see one (Clint Eastwood comes to mind). Mickey Rourke was one of those hit or miss actors of the 90s (I was one of those who actually liked him in "Barfly"). In this instance he is more than adequate, and he rolls along with the punchy, quirky script like the prize fighter he longed to be. Lisa Bonet, as the Nubian Lolita, is perfectly cast. No need to provide spoilers here, but the ending is one of the all time greatest, where any ambiguity that the filmmaker might have set up for us is exquisitely resolved. Certainly not one of the deepest cinema excursions ever attempted, but one of the most enjoyable, particularly for those who like a little spice and suspense in their gumbo.
on 20 January 2013
This is a film which changes direction at frequent intervals. It starts in familiar Sam Spade-imitation territory but veers - quite subtley - into bloody murder, deep south racism, voodoo and devil worship. There are lot's of clues along the way to entertain the amateur detective viewer but they're not irritatingly signposted, the way these things often are.Don't be tempted to hit the Off button before the absolute end of the closing credits, and never eat hard boiled eggs with Robert De Niro. If there was ever a film which demonstrates the old cliche that it's what you don't see that scares you most - this is a prime contender.
on 16 February 2014
Being a huge Robert De Niro Fan, this film was always one of the few films I hadn't seen but was always on my mind to see, After watching it once I was pleasently suprised at how good it was, I loved it from start to finish, although not everyone will enjoy this film quite a few people will!!
on 15 August 2016
Angel heart is an 1987 neo noir detective horror film starring Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel, a private eye from Brooklyn in the 1950s who is hired by Louis Cyphere (Robert De Niro) to locate a mysterious singer named Johnny Favorite, who disappeared in the early ‘40s and hasn't been seen since.
Angel's journey takes him from the streets of New York to jazz clubs in Harlem and, finally, to the sweltering swamps of Louisiana where disturbing acts of sacrifice , worship and voodoo occur.
The film also stars Robert Deniro and Lisa Bonet who give strong performances in unconventional roles not usually associated with them.
From the very beginning of the film the mood is dark and mysterious and it is suggested not everything is as it seems as Angel endures frightening dreams and meets strange characters with a dark presence. The film contains some visually shocking and graphic imagery as well as an infamous scene between lisa bonet and mickey rourke which contains very explicit and gory sex...
Angel heart is an extremely underrated film from the late 80s which blends the detective crime genre with the occult/psychological horror genre and delivers on action , mystery and horrifying the viewer. Recommended to anybody who enjoys horror and detective movies.
on 29 October 2011
Very underrated movie from Alan Parker with a brilliant twist. The book Falling Angel on which it is based is superb also. Parker does the book justice although the action is relocated from New York to the Deep South. It doesn't really matter if you read the book or watch the movie first as both are great. Rourke is also at the top of his game here, his best performance in my view. He plays a down market P.I who tries to locate a missing person and gets drawn into much darker territory. My only slight quibble is that the UK blu-ray transfer isn't very good. Probably better to stick with dvd or import the US blu-ray which is far superior in terms of picture quality.