Review: Angel Heart (1987)

Hardboiled, neo-noir detective story meets atmospheric supernatural horror. Angel Heart is a phenomenal film about to leave Netflix. Stream it now, or forever hold your peace. Or something.

The year is 1955. Mickey Rourke is Harry Angel, a washed-up, grimy private eye, in the vein of the characters Bob Hoskins was parodying in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Here though, it’s played completely straight, and it completely works. He’s hired by Robert De Niro as Louis Cyphre to track down Johnny Favorite, a jazz crooner whom De Niro had made famous during his early days and who’d vanished after the war. Angel takes the job, but there’s one problem. Every lead he follows turns up dead. And there’s little else I can say without spoiling the film. The plot is fairly simple once everything’s made clear, but there are twists and turns to be had, twists and turns I’d not like to ruin.

What I can say is that Angel Heart is amazing. Beautifully shot and perfectly performed, it captivates from start to finish. Rourke is spot-on as Angel, greasy, grimy, and unpleasant, but with that undeniable Humphrey Bogart-esque charm. Opposite him in a few, pivotal scenes is De Niro’s Cyphre, his opposite in many ways. Perfectly groomed, with a neatly trimmed beard, gelled-back hair, and meticulously manicured nails. His mannerisms are smooth both literally and figuratively. It’s that Bond-villain-esque menace, the elements of hand movement, gestures, posture, etc. that turn Donald Pleasence stroking a cat into something sinister, and here turn Robert DeNiro peeling a hard-boiled egg into something evil.

Image result for angel heart egg

The scares here come mostly from dripping atmosphere. The cinematography, the pulse-pounding music, the unexpected twists and turns, the oozing blood from…well, I shouldn’t ruin it for you. Perhaps the narrative is a bit too simplistic, but it’s elegant that way. A slick neo-noir detective story with a supernatural twist, Angel Heart delivers a unique experience, earning an A.

a grade

Well, there’s something perhaps unexpected. Unexpected even for me. I discovered it recently, and had to share it. Seriously check it out, it’s great. I’ll see you n the next post. Bye!

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