Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.
Harry Angel has a new case, to find a man called Johnny Favourite. Except things aren't quite that simple and Johnny doesn't want to be found. Let's just say that amongst the period detail and beautiful scenery, it all gets really really nasty. Written by
David Carroll <email@example.com>
... when it brings no profit to the wise? On the surface, that seems to be the moral of "Angel Heart." But look a little deeper -- the fact is, Harry Angel knew the truth all along, and here's the true moral:
"However cleverly you sneak up on a mirror... your reflection always looks you straight in the eye."
Much of the meaning in this dark tale lies in the above line uttered by DeNiro's character, Louis Cyphre. We can pretend to lie to ourselves and bury our heads in the sand, but in the end we know. And it isn't the knowing that hurts us, but all the hiding and lying that went on before.
This film has been summed up many times before, so I won't do it again. It's also been said that the film was ahead of its time in 1987, and IMO this can't be emphasized enough. There's no doubt in my mind that it's been an influence on many a filmmaker and screenwriter. Among films of this type it's easier to follow than, say, "Memento," but more befuddled and confusing than "The Sixth Sense." You may or may not guess the ending, but if you're the type who's bothered by confusing movies -- simply read all the spoilers or the whole screenplay, THEN see the film! I guarantee you won't enjoy it any less for knowing.
Cinematography 10/10, screenplay 7/10, acting 9.5/10, overall I'd give it about a 9/10. If anything makes this movie great (and qualifies it as a classic) it's the cinematography and atmosphere. It really is richly and gorgeously shot, and atmospheric to the nth degree. Watch it on a slow day when you have time to savor these things and aren't overly anxious to figure it out or discover the resolution to the story.
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