80s cinema has that so sincerity that back in the day, almost all directors could not even consider the idea of special effects andCGI. Movies were rebelling against the hip vibe of 70s and just featured people in daft costumes, going through the paces. There was a crass beauty to it that a lot of people miss. However, ANGEL HEART, adapted from author William Hjortsberg’s detective nightmare FALLING ANGEL, was a standout in any eras listing if entered in on the quiet.
Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a PI hired to find a missing oddball singer who went under the name Johnny Favorite, who simply vapourised himself from existence. His client Louis Cyphre (Robert de Niro) has no care if he’s cold or warm, he just has to know what his path was and where he ended up. This is out of the norma for scrufbag Angel, who’s into handling petty stuff like divorces and infidelity claims. Favorite had associated with a lot of odd people, ranging from the morphine addled doctor , fortune tellers and a voodoo cult operating down south. His task then gets even stranger when death seems to follow him.
William Hjortsberg’s novel was popular in the first place on account of the hybrid mystery horror. The horror elements in the movie never reveal the lack of budget, and there’s actually a very classy feeling adorable raw demonic vibe to it. ANGEL HEART is made terrifying in that the realisation of the horrible truth of the occult is delivered through poor Harry’s own vantage, so we walk with him to the truth. The subtle touches of persuasion and hints at the truth are what drives the soul (or lack thereof) of this dark masterpiece.
ANGEL HEART is visoined in such a raw visual fashion, it rarely needs to conform to even subtle horror norms. The excellent screenplay and choice to keep us in tandem with Harrys revelations are perfectly judged. British director Alan Parker embraces the movies nakedness of his movie and embraces the dark corners, soggy setting and bland backalleys in all locations to give it the visual tone to match. Coney Island scenes are the standout but Alan Parker makes the most out of every setting.
The simplicity of a handful of children playing in sand still delivers a shiver. This throwback movie which holds more than just the sum of its own parts is an example of how in simpler times with less than we have on a mobile phone we could do more than two or three of the current super hero addled studios could even remembered that they once were capable of.