Angel Heart (DVD)

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Angel Heart (DVD)

In Alan Parker's ANGEL HEART, based on the novel FALLING ANGEL by William Hjortsberg, a New York City gumshoe is hired to find an aging blues singer. ...

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Review of "Angel Heart (DVD)"

published 26/06/2006 | sghawken
Member since : 31/10/2005
Reviews : 993
Members who trust : 320
About me :
in 2013 my life's direction changed, film reviews went out the window. I stopped watching them, and started making them. In 2016 while waiting for films to reach final edit, I found I suddenly had time on my hands.
Pro Well thought out thriller
Cons May be confusing for a certain age demagraphic to understand.
very helpful
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Characters / Performances
Special Effects

""It's Anything Can Happen Day!""

Harry Angel is a down on his luck private eye working out of the slums of Harlem. Out of the blue he receives a phone call asking him to locate a missing person. Angel enters a community renown for unusual religious practices where he meets with the very wealthy Mr Cyphre. Cyphre's conversational skills in respect of the case are a little limited, but Angel desperate to earn an honest buck decides to investigate the disappearance of big band swinger Johnny Favorite.

It transpires that Favorite's last known location was a old military hospital out in the middle of nowhere; however upon arrival he is told that Favorite never resided there. Ever the reluctant soul Angel pushes the limits of his enquiry discovering that a retired doctor had falsified the records in order to hide that Favorite had ever resided there.

Angel visits the retired Doctor Fowler at his home; but upon arrival Fowler is nowhere in sight. Angel breaks into Fowler's home to discover that the good doctor has developed a drug addiction. When Fowler returns home a little worse for wear, Angel locks him in a room telling him that a bit of cold turkey time (cold turkey is a term referred to the detoxification of addicts) will allow Fowler to answer his questions better.

But when Angel returns he finds that Fowler has been horrifically murdered, and this is not about to become a one off occurrence.


Mickey Rourke .... Harry Angel
Robert De Niro .... Louis Cyphre
Lisa Bonet .... Epiphany Proudfoot
Charlotte Rampling .... Margaret Krusemark
Stocker Fontelieu .... Ethan Krusemark
Brownie McGhee .... Toots Sweet
Michael Higgins .... Dr. Albert Fowler
Elizabeth Whitcraft .... Connie
Eliott Keener .... Det. Sterne
Charles Gordone .... Spider Simpson, Bandleader
Dann Florek .... Herman Winesap

If ever a movie can be compared to a wine then Angel Heart is that movie. Rather like wine it improves with age and needs sampling on numerous occasions. My original thought on Angel Heart was that although the story was excellent it was far too slow and drawn out. However on my second viewing I found that it was not quite as slow as I had assumed, and that I had missed massive portions out pertinent to the overall performance of the story. Now nearly 20 years on from my first viewing I still find Angel Heart a fascinating and compelling movie that continues to change and entertain.

If I have one criticism of Angel Heart it's that the character of Cyphre's true identity is hardly well hidden. It's so obvious that a child can point it out; that being said its rather amusing to see the metamorphosis of the character with each and every meeting he has with Angel. But other than that as each portion of the film is revealed the rest is a total surprise to most that view it. If of course your familiar to watching this style of movie then it may be a little less surprising.

What is important to point out is that the movie is set during the 1950's and in order to give it that 50's feel director Alan Parker applied a sepia finish to the print; this some people find a touch disturbing. I have also found in that keeping its timely accuracy that certain terms of phase and wordings may remain a little unclear to viewers below a certain age. I personally feel that someone born before 1980 may need to seek clarification on terminology used.

From a performance point of view the two leads Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro really put a considerable amount of time into their performances. Rourke is in the best acting quality I have seen him since 9 ½ weeks, while he is quite an offensive character as a whole he does make himself likeable to the viewer. Rather like 9 ½ weeks he stays just a portion on the good side of being bad. As for De Niro he actually spends less than 10 minutes in the entire film, but for the 10 minutes he is there he totally rules the film. Unlike Rourke his character is pure evil, and De Niro does nothing better than be bad.
Additional acting support includes Lisa Bonet, she had made a name for herself with the hit Cosby Show; and while this was her first big screen outing it was also a role that ruined her career. Her performance was slated as being unfeeling and wooden, but I think a point missed by that reviewer is that the character she played had experienced extreme hardship and grief furthermore she was deeply involved in Voodoo and often "possessed" so with this in mind would her character not be unfeeling and a little wooden?
Charlotte Rampling does the usual thing which is play a character with extreme darkness and completely devoid of personality. I'd really love her to accept a part where she comes out of herself.

The movie is likely to offend a large amount of viewers; it at times mocks religious belief and ventures into the world of voodoo and Satanism. It continuously shows graphic scenes or uses graphic wording to define a specific incident. Without being patronising I would not recommend it to anyone under the age of 21, despite its 15 certificate rating. The reason I say this is that with the odd exception few people under this age will either understand fully the concept of the film, or have the attention span to appreciate it for its true worth. Angel Heart is by far one of the darkest movies to ever come out of Hollywood, but without a doubt one of the best movies of this particular genre.

Special Features

An introduction by Alan Parker allows the viewer to move into the correct mindset required for the movie; it's a very brief and not particularly inspiring addition to the DVD but it gives the viewer the opportunity to detach themselves from everyday things.

There are several making of documentaries, these address the concept of the movie, the choice of cast, on set pieces showing how certain effects were achieved and how the crew managed to make an area now becoming very modern look like 1950's Harlem.

Photo Gallery; like all of them to me is a pointless inclusion simply padding to make the DVD seem like it contains more.

There are a series of Biographies of the cast and crew which give a background of there work and brief references to personal circumstances.

In a series of interviews lasting over an hour the cast discuss there thoughts on the movie and for some a different much bigger picture that some may not have considered.

The final addition to the DVD is a series of featurettes the most useful of which discusses the acclaim and criticism's associated with the film. It also addresses the public disapproval of the movie and a threatening encounter for one of the main cast in respect of their performance.

This DVD is available shortly from priced £14.99 which may seem like a lot, but the film itself is worth it. The addition of more than 8 hours of additional "padding" makes it more inviting still.

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Comments on this review

  • bonsi6337 published 28/07/2006
    Great review there Spence! I have to agree - this film has to be Mickey Rourke's best ever. I really enjoyed reading that and must have a look for the DVD to add to the ever growing collection! Di xx
  • missy0303 published 30/06/2006
    Gosh I haven't seen this for ages! I had forgotten all about it! x
  • ally2kc published 29/06/2006
    Fantastic review. What an unusual and exciting mix of actors. One for the weekend maybe...Thanks
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Product Information : Angel Heart (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

In Alan Parker's ANGEL HEART, based on the novel FALLING ANGEL by William Hjortsberg, a New York City gumshoe is hired to find an aging blues singer. Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) follows clues from the ominous ghettos of Harlem to the witchy backwoods of Louisiana, where he takes up with Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet), the beautiful young daughter of a voodoo priestess, whom he believes will be able to shed light on the growing mystery surrounding the missing musician. As Angel closes in on the truth of the case, his contacts start turning up dead. He begins to suspect he might be next.<BR>Parker (MISSISSIPPI BURNING) threads a commentary on the limitations of modern Western society into his sensual, suspenseful thriller. As the story unfolds, Angel relies less and less on his failing, overwhelmed rational mind (and handgun) and more on Epiphany's ancient mojo. Rourke captures the unraveling protagonist perfectly, and Bonet adds an erotic and mysterious edge with her performance. Robert De Niro is both funny and malevolent as Angel's mysterious client, Louis Cyphre. Shimmering with a beguiling mist of the macabre, ANGEL HEART provides an unexpectedly haunting dose of gothic noir.


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