Angel Heart (1987) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Alan Parker’s hellish vision of 1950’s film noir mixed with 1980’s horror genre creates an often magnificent and always interesting piece of work, even if the story strays into the overblown and preposterous on occasion. Mickey Rourke is ideally cast in the role of bumbling gumshoe Harry Angel, I was just waiting for the line, “I’m no Angel,” but the screenwriters have shown great restraint in not stating the obvious. Gorgeous production design and imaginative use of lighting are the strongest elements, in the good-looking and overly ambitious, Angel Heart.

Private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a Brooklyn based snoop, recently hired by the mysterious Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro) to track down a former singer’s whereabouts. The missing man, known as Johnny Favorite, sold his soul to the devil for stardom and now the reaper has come to collect his collateral. Angel travels to Louisiana to track down the crooner and deliver him to Cyphre, but the road becomes blurred when a beautiful young voodoo witch doctor (Lisa Bonet) becomes involved. Soon, dead bodies begin piling up around the detective and the police believe Angel is the key suspect.

Angel Heart is most accomplished in its technical departments. The lighting, production design and tone of the film give it a weighted atmosphere. Director Alan Parker, who also wrote the screenplay based on author William Hjortsberg’s novel ‘Falling Angel’, gets all the peripheral elements right. Unfortunately the writing isn’t up to the level, the film’s final twist isn’t a huge revelation, since the first scene between Angel and Cyphre is a giveaway to the conclusion. So, what is left is a good-looking but ultimately overly complicated movie that collapses in the final act. Up to that point, Angel Heart is alternately unnerving and engrossing.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet

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