Angel Heart

Alan Parker, USA 1987, 113 mins

Mickey Rourke's arguably finest performance (though excluding Rumblefish and Barfly - the choice wasn't THAT wide) as 1950s New York private eye Harry Angel, suffering partial paranoia following implied war shell-shock.

The film is a "riveting Faustian thriller" and has a superb cast where even Robert De Niro puts in a memorable performance (not his usual incoherent street hood) as a vengeful Mr Big - Louis Cyphre who hires Angel "the first dick in the directory" to trace and bring back a creditor who has defaulted on a deal with Cyphre.

The plot twists back and forth from the claustrophobia of New York City to the sweltering heat and humidity of the New Orleans backwoods. It features a torrid sexual encounter with Lisa Bonet (of Cosby Show fame; she had her contract suspended after this racy thriller for fear it might tarnish Cosby's squeaky clean image).

Charlotte Rampling also gives an excellent performance and as the leads get closer and closer the tension rises. Scripted from William Hjortberg's novel "Fallen Angel" it provides one of the few examples of the 80s noir cinema, which doesn't fall flat on its face.

An understated and often overlooked fiery tale of claustrophobia, voodoo and the occult.

Stephen J. Brennan
EUFS Programme 1998-99