on 25 February 2005
Moody and atmospheric, this film charts the progress of Mickey Rourke's low down private detective hired by the brooding and mysterious Robert de Niro on the case of a missing singer.
Mixing a veritable potpourri of ideas and concepts this is an extremely visually stunning film taking the viewer from the mean streets of 1950's New York to the bluesy jazz filled countryside of Deep South Louisianna. It takes the many and varied flavours of the occult and voodoo and produces a dark and macabre film which does deliver.
Rourke plays his part extremely well and manages to get the audience to be revolted and yet sympathise with his loser character. De Niro hams it up slightly as evil personified but stills pulls off a most effective and chilling act. The other supporting cast do very well at their minor roles, especially Lisa Bonet although I question the gratuitous nudity slightly.
The running of the film can be quite quirky, from the classic gothic horror to puzzling randomness (the scene on the beach for example) and some of the dream-like scenes are verging on the revolting. The ending of the film is the most stunning sequence, when all the other threads are pulled together, and perhaps I'm just thick, but this came as a total surprise to me!
All in all personally not my favourite type of film, but for the fan of horror, this challenges more than the run of the mill blood and guts slasher movie and is well worth a watch.
Angel Heart is directed by Alan Parker and written by William Hjortsberg (novel). It stars Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet. Music is by Trevor Jones and cinematography by Michael Seresin.
Hired by the mysterious Louis Cyphre (De Niro), New York private investigator Harry Angel (Rourke) goes to New Orleans in search of missing WWII veteran Johnny Favourite. But once he gets into the case he finds that nothing much makes any sense. Especially as the bodies start to pile up.
A mix of detective mystery thriller laced with voodoo horror, nicely furnished with noirish photography and piped with a suitably eerie musical score, Angel Heart is a Sothern Gothic delight. The plot is a bit too murky for its own good at times, and credulity is stretched to breaking point, but the constant sense of unease and the off kilter flow of Harry Angel's journey, ensures its riveting from the start to its wonderfully twisted ending. Rourke is excellent, a ball of sleazy like confusion, De Niro isn't having to do much and he's not in it nearly enough, but never the less he commands the screen with that 80s presence he was so famed for. While Bonet lets go of all her homespun Cosby show niceties to unleash a naked and bloody woman of intrigue.
Enjoy the metaphors, enjoy the hoodwinking, enjoy the cast and certainly enjoy the impressive sheen cloaked all over it. Parker has fun making it, you should have fun watching it unravel in front of you. 7.5/10
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 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.
Angel Heart is quite an unusual film blending a few genres together it's not just a normal thriller, but one with some satanic/horror parts added into the mix. On most levels the film succeeds in delivering a unique experience.
The story follows Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke), a private investigator, who is hired to follow the instructions of his new client Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro). Louis wants Harry to find out about a man called "Johnny Favorite", and so Harry sets off on a lengthy and detailed investigation journey to fulfil his clients wishes, and along the way makes some startling discoveries.
It's impossible to tell the plot in detail without ruining the impact of the film, so I won't go further, but I will say the story has a very unique and powerful twist (with a satanic tone to much of it) which won't be forgotten easily.
De Niro has a supporting role here, his presence does not consume lots of screen time but he is effective at portraying the character Louis who is both somewhat odd and slightly sinister. Mickey Rourke does a good job as the PI Harry, with his relaxed acting style he suits the part well. We also get some good supporting cast performances from Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling.
What stood out to me aside from good solid direction from Alan Parker (who is not a prolific director but has some good films under his belt) is the quite excellent cinematography by Michael Seresin who captures the dark moody atmosphere almost perfectly, with some great attention to small details/lighting (the well known fan at the DVD start one example) small touches that add up to quite a lot of impact. Good use of sound helps lift the production even more.
This isn't a quick moving film, though about right in length. The story is good though and if you've not seen it before will be quite a revelation to many viewers. Even after repeated viewings the film holds up well. Probably not for everyone out there, but if you are looking for something a bit darker, with a strong but slower developing story and a nice horror element to it, this is certainly worthy of attention.
The film wasn't a commercial success, but like many good films it has over time developed something of a cult following by fans. It isn't your average run of the mill you see it a mile off story line production, and it's quite unique in many ways.
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 4 May 2013
I don't care what anyone says... this is a good movie!
And I think Micky Rourke's portrail of the two-bit private eye is the best thing he's ever done.
Alan Parker as the director has really found the right time, place and atmosphere for this detective thriller.
And for an old blues buff like myself the appearance of Brownie McGhee is an added plus.
Angel Heart is a great premise and a terrific twist in search of a good movie, or at least a better script as Mickey Rourke's lowlife private eye is hired by the Devil to track down a defaulter who's sold his soul but done a disappearing act come collecting time - something the audience knows long before he cottons on himself. It's a great idea for a neo-noir, set in a murkily realised post WW2 New Orleans, but unfortunately Alan Parker mistakes endless shots of fans or shadowy elevators for atmosphere, provides a screenplay that lacks thrills, chills or even momentum but does really hammer home the elevator metaphors, while Robert De Niro gives a foretaste of the hackwork to come with the screen's least impressive Lou Cypher (you see what they did there?). If anything, it seems even less impressive now than when it came out in 1987.
The film's had a less than satisfactory time of it on both DVD and Bluray in the UK. All versions are slightly cut by the BBFC because of animal cruelty (although the sex scene that was edited for US release remained uncut), and none have outstanding transfers. The first release included an audio commentary and interview with Parker, brief EPK featurettes and, in the first copies, a 64 page paperback book on the making of the film. Its subsequent two-disc reissue included a whole new disc of extras, but these were more interested in voodoo than the film itself, while the Bluray was completely extras-free. Lionsgate's US region-free Bluray offers the film completely uncut in an unrated version with an excellent transfer, dropping the voodoo extras but carrying over the audio commentary and an interview with Parker, a scene-specific commentary and on-camera interview with Rourke (complete with pet Chihuahua and frighteningly bad plastic surgery) and a trailer.
on 2 March 2001
This movie carries with it an underlying mood of shear despair that is sustained from beginning to end. It is a film that is underated to say the least and for me the best film of Director Alan Parkers career. An astonishingly fantastic performance by Mickey Rourke in the Lead Role.
on 6 June 2012
Truly a class film from beginning to end. The performances are superb with Rouke easily acting at his peak. The film is a creepy atmospheric triller set against the backdrop of Deep South America with a haunting blues/jazz soundtrack and so much to pick up that you will easily need to watch it 2-3 times to pick up all he nuances within the film. One of Parkers great films (alongside the equally brilliant Midnight Express) this will be the best £5 you spend for a while!