Film: Angel Heart
Director: Alan Parker
Writer: Alan Parker
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet
This film begins in an alleyway. There is snow on the ground and a dog is investigating. There is a cat that is up on the fire escape that is meowing. The dog finds a dead body.
The film then informs us that we are in New York City in 1955. We see a man going up to an office; he is played by Mickey Rourke. We learn that he is a private detective and he is called about taking on a missing person’s case. He takes down the information and goes to the meeting.
This meeting takes place inside of a church. The church has an African-American congregation. We learn that one of the parishioners has killed himself. We see a woman is cleaning up the blood. The meeting is between Rourke, a lawyer played by Dann Florek and a business man played by Robert De Niro. It should be pointed out that his name is Louis Cyphre. The case is that Niro made a deal with a man, named Johnny Favorite, who has gone missing. He wants Rourke to track him down. All that they have was that the man went to war, came back and was taken to a hospital.
Rourke goes there to check it out, but learns that without an appointment, he will not be able to see anyone. The nurse working does give him some information to get him started. He learns that Johnny was transferred out years before. Rourke also learns the doctor who was in charge of this.
The doctor is paid a visit. Rourke breaks in and checks out his place, learning that the doctor is addicted to morphine. The doctor comes home and he is played by Michael Higgins. He needs his fix, but Rourke will not let him have it. He forces him to tell what he knows. It turns out that Johnny was not transferred, but Higgins accepted a large sum of money to pretend like he was still there. Johnny was taken out of the hospital by a woman and a man. Rourke takes Higgins up to bed to go ‘cold turkey’ for a bit, but when he returns; he finds that Higgins has killed himself. Rourke makes sure there is no evidence of him being there.
Rourke does some more digging, finding out what Johnny was into and who he used to hang out with. This brings him to Coney Island, where he learns that Johnny was into black magic, voodoo and was seeing two women. It appears that there was an African-American by the last name of Proudfoot who was also into voodoo, as well as Caucasian fortune teller who came from a wealthy background. This leads Rourke to go down to Louisiana to continue his investigation.
Updates are given to Niro, who offers more money after the death of Higgins is reported to him. He is cryptic with Rourke, but pushes him to continue to investigate.
In Louisiana, Rourke tracks down the people he has been looking for. The Proudfoot woman has died, but he meets her daughter, played by Lisa Bonet. She has a young son and she takes to Rourke immediately, as does he with her. She doesn’t give him much information though.
Another is an African-American guitar player who knew Johnny; this man is played by Brownie McGhee. He claims that he really didn’t know Johnny, but he gives a little bit too much information. A voodoo warning is given to him, but Rourke continues to push the envelope.
The final is the other girlfriend to Johnny, was a fortune teller. She is played by Charlotte Rampling. Rourke visits her under the guise of getting his fortune read, but he gives Johnny’s information and Rampling doesn’t like it. She asks him to leave. As he is going, he notices that Rampling has the same mark on her necklace as Niro’s ring and McGhee has a gold tooth the same mark. It is a pentagram.
As Rourke continues to dig, he learns that everyone has been lying about something. He witnesses Bonet and McGhee doing a voodoo ritual together. Rourke pushes McGhee even more after this and does get some information. The problem is that it costs him his life. Before Rourke left, he leaves his name and number for him. When he is found dead, the police coming knocking.
Rampling is also murdered and the heat is really on Rourke now. He sees more of Bonet and also is visited by Niro. Rourke checks out Rampling’s father, who is a rich man, played by Stocker Fontelieu. Can Rourke figure out this mystery or will he be busted for crimes he doesn’t think he committed. How is everyone connected? Who is Johnny Favorite and where is at? As everyone seems to be dying around him, who is committing these murders and will someone survive long enough to learn what he needs to?
I do have to say that I have watched this film twice and I feel it is a solid mystery horror film. I think Rourke, Niro and Bonet were all really good in their roles. I think they did a good job at making it feel like it was the 50s. They play their characters well. The overall mystery was good and I liked the twist. I’m also a big fan of Niro’s character’s name and its play on words. I thought this film also has great to the editing. It does a good job at using recurring images that correlate to the reveal. I also liked that music and editing of scenes was used to help build tension which was very well done.
There weren’t a lot of issues I had with this film. I didn’t like that some of the scenes were confusing and this was due to things not being explained enough. The film does do a good job at revealing everything, so that I didn’t have to worry about it in the end. It does take me out of the story to connect and figure things out though, taking away from the film. I felt some scenes didn’t really serve a big purpose and that confused me too. Not glaring issues, but does take the score down a little bit.
I would recommend giving this film a viewing. If you like the 50s, private detective, film noir and want to a more modern take, then give this a viewing. This combines those types of films with horror and mystery. The meshing worked well for me. The acting is good, the story is solid, it has a great twist and there is some really good editing as well. For a film like this, if it sounds good, then I would say to give it a viewing. It is a film I have never heard a lot about and really is a diamond in the rough.
My Rating: 7 out of 10