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Film Title

Angel Heart

Director

Alan Parker

Cast

  • Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel
  • Robert De Niro as Louis Cyphre
  • Lisa Bonet as Epiphany Proudfoot
  • Charlotte Rampling as Margaret Kruesmark

An unsettling mix of noir and supernatural thriller, Angel Heart contains many visually indelible images and a highly atmospheric score that linger long in the memory. Although polarizing and controversial upon release, in no small part to a graphic love scene, Angel Heart is much more than that. It may seem like style over substance and lacking subtlety, but if you look closer it has a nail-biting premise that culminates in a shocking and unexpected finale. Angel Heart is not a film for everyone, in particular the faint hearted but there is no denying its shock power, sense of creepy atmosphere and memorable lead performance by a young Mickey Rourke.

It is 1955, New York. Harry Angel is an unkempt private detective who is often contacted for simple cases. One day he is contacted by a lawyer whose client wants help with an interesting job. The client is the elegant yet strangely sinister Louis Cyphre, who Harry meets in a church in Harlem. He informs Harry of Johnny Favourite, a crooner during the war who suffered horrific injuries and hasn’t been seen in a long time. Cyphre had a deal which he cryptically talks about that he had with the crooner that he wishes to resolve. He wants Angel to find out simply if Johnny is alive or dead. Harry takes the case, but as he investigates further into Johnny’s life in New Orleans and meets the sexy and mysterious Epiphany Proudfoot, a growing sense of creepiness and uncertainty begins to surround it. His questions are met with hush-hush replies and strange occurrences begin happening as a result of Angel’s curiosity with the crooner. He also becomes caught up in the Voodoo of Johnny’s past and he is plagued by weird dreams that make no sense to him at all.

Special praise should go to the cinematography that captures the darkness and sweltering atmosphere that Harry uncovers through the course of the film. The film is also sonically intriguing, making the simplest of sounds such as the clattering of feet and the turning of a fan sound sinister. A young Mickey Rourke both shows the tough and vulnerable side to Harry, making the audience relate to him and what he is going through. His scenes with De Niro are fantastic and memorable. Robert De Niro relishes the role of Cyphre and plays him with a creepy and cryptic menace that is quite unsettling. Shedding her good girl image of The Cosby Show, Lisa Bonet is enigmatic and sexy as the Voodoo priestess and daughter of one of Johnny’s conquests. Charlotte Rampling is an interesting and mystical presence in her small role as a wronged fortune-teller whose heart was broken by the crooner.

All in all, Angel Heart is a visually intriguing and doom laden movie that takes many twists and turns as it escalates. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the film is not for everyone. But if you like a thriller with a supernatural edge and bizarre images, this is the film I would recommend.

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