A nightmarish fever dream of despair, discovery, and darkness is what makes Alan Parker’s ANGEL HEART one of the very best films of the 1980’s. Featuring a greasy and tobacco stained Mickey Rourke, a fresh and innocent Lisa Bonet, and Robert De Niro in one of his most underrated and undervalued performances.
The brutal violence and horrifying imagery of Rourke’s downward spiral are made up of this harmoniously tranquil aesthetic that makes the film even more terrifying and unnerving. At times, the film almost challenges its viewer to look away from the screen, but it knows you cannot because you’ve become so enamored with the richly lathered story that quickly unfolds.
Rourke gives one of his finest, if not best performance as the amoral and skeevy private investigator who doesn’t have any limitations of what he’ll do for a paycheck. As his story arc comes to a close, Rourke transforms his character into a man who’s conflict gains nothing but sympathy from the viewer.
De Niro gives a brilliant and subtle turn as a man who is so powerful and dangerous his very presence in the film leaves you feeling violated. De Niro has often been hailed for his award-winning performances, but this role deserves as much attention and acclaim if not more.
Director Alan Parker is almost an unsung hero as a filmmaker. He’s made countless films throughout an array of genres, never allowing himself to become beholden to any of them. His films are topical, emotional, and more times than not unique pictures that find their way into your consciousness and are rarely forgotten. ANGEL HEART is a film that few have seen but no one will ever forget.