Angel Heart – USA, 1987 – reviews


Angel Heart is a 1987 American psychological horror film written and directed by Alan Parker, and starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet. It also contains elements of film noir and hard-boiled detective stories. The film is adapted from the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg.

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It seems like a straightforward case when detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is hired by Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to find missing singer Johnny Favourite. However, before long the trail has led him to Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet) and a mysterious occult world in which everyone he questions seems to wind up dead. No matter what he finds out along the way, nothing will prepare Harry for what awaits him at the end of his quest…

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Angel Heart gained attention and controversy even before its release. Bonet was previously known for her role on the family-oriented sitcom The Cosby Show, and several seconds of her extended, graphic and blood-drenched sex scene with Rourke had to be trimmed in order to secure the film an ‘R’ rating on initial release, though an uncut X-rated version was later released.

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“On one hand, many viewers praise the film’s extraordinary cinematography, the strong performances given by the leading actors, its atmospheric direction and the way the convoluted narrative keeps the audience guessing until it reaches its shattering climax. On the other, the film has been criticised for its lack of depth, its stylistic and visual excesses and most pertinently, the way in which that visual extravagance masquerades a story which may not be that strong in the first place.” Alan Daly, The Digital Fix


“From the masterfully shot but grimly artificial seediness of the New York opening to the flagrantly “What a tweest!” letdown of a demonic denouement, there isn’t a single believable or resonant moment in the entire film; even the highly celebrated, jagged-milieu “atmosphere” is more professional than evocative.” Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant Magazine

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