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24 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful directorial debut

9/10
Author: jandesimpson from United Kingdom
10 April 2002

I suspect the pressures of commercialism to be the dominant factor behind the decline of some of the world's greatest directors in their final years. Sad examples include Wyler, De Sica and Carol Reed. Even as sustained a talent as David Lynch has not produced anything quite as imaginative as the early "Eraserhead". Possibly the most regrettable loss to commercialism in recent years has been that of Neil Jordan who has somehow not even managed to produce a core of outstanding work. Only his brilliant debut "Angel" serves as a reminder of what might have been. Although set at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles, this is in no sense a political film like "Some Mother's Son" and "In The Name Of The Father". Rather is it a character study of a highly talented saxophonist with an insecure temperament that even makes him doubt his ability as a musician. He becomes completely unstabilised when he witnesses a gangland - subtly not a political - atrocity, so much so that he embarks on a murderous spree of revenge. The gun becomes a substitute for the saxophone - a simplistic but marvellously satisfying metaphor in this context. As he journeys deeper into murderous darkness he begins to lose his tender relationship with Dee, a singer in his band. The feeling of what might have developed between them is the film's tragic core. What partly makes "Angel" so remarkable is the terseness of its dialogue, so much so that we find ourselves remembering lines long afterwards in the same way that we do from films as diverse as "The Third Man" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". The film is also paced in such a skillful way that it can afford to pause to encompass such vignettes as Aunt Mae reading the tea-leaves and the Salvation Army musician who has played for them all but now plays for the Lord. "Angel" is full of small details that hauntingly resonate long after the film is over.

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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Neil Jordan's first masterpiece

7/10
Author: tcheb from Montreal, Canada
8 January 2000

In this movie we follow a young Irish sax player who accidentally witnesses the murder of a young mute girl he just met. He decides not to tell anything to the police and track the killers down all by himself. Even if it sounds like one, it is all but an action movie. What it really is, is a great psychological drama which in spite of its pretty amateurish style really embarks us in its story. Stephen Rea is as silent and as good as usual. His cold and severe but at the same time fragile look fits magnificently in this tale of revenge and naïveté. Undoubtedly, only an Irish director could have done a movie with such an atmosphere and as much style. We can almost feel the dirt, despair and disillusion in the Irish suburb as well as the corrupted purity and quietness of the country. Danny is the spokes-man of a disenchanted nation only trying to understand what is going on and hoping for a long-awaited revenge.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

hardly a plot but a lot of atmosphere

7/10
Author: Christian Heynk from Germany
13 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although this film can hardly be called a movie with a well conceived plot it still has a lot of atmosphere that kept me watching the film to the end. Stephen Rea is a great actor and he doesn't need a voice over to explain his feelings simply because they are discernible on his face. The crude air of the picture makes the movie very realistic and there is a melancholy to the film that had me close to tears more than once. I thought how awful it must be to live in shabby Ireland and to wear pink suits in order to catch some attention. Everything I saw in this movie reminded me of something I read in a novel by Geanzino: How magnificent our thoughts can be and how ugly the circumstances are we live under.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

His new music may not be sweet, but it hits the target!!

8/10
Author: shane013a-1 from United States
8 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stephen Rea keeps consistent in both his accent and his commitment to rid the country of the scum whats killed his mate as well as the pretty young innocent he'd just met during a gig turned disaster. His clumsy manner at being an executioner runs consistent to his attempts at romance. When he's routinely questioned about the rising body count, he insists "I'm just a musician". It's ironic that as his new music of vengeance performed with the monotone clacking of the machine gun improves, his sax is getting deeper and more expressive as is his sex. The supporting cast is kept at a distance after the initial horror. This demands of them to do their stuff right from the chest which is nicely handled. So, here he is dying for a relationship while at the same time realizing that he's going the opposite way and that he must do it alone, however; it has been pointed "he's charmed".

For all its' pain and death this is still a love story and a well done one at that. See it with your sweetie.

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