I watched Year of the Dragon and Angel Heart back to back and I want to say that this contains a better performance by Mickey Rourke and is a better film overall. I don’t like to compare completely unrelated films, but it is interesting to see Rourke play similar types (a Brooklynite cop/private detective who, of course, goes against the grain). Unlike the overly sentimental, ambitious-to-a-fault Cimino mini-epic, Alan Parker sets out here to create a kind of anti/neo-noir.
It’s hard to deny the raw talent that Rourke displays here; it’s not him bumbling through a character, it’s the character that’s bumbling. Rourke says in a fairly interesting interview included with the DVD that he ‘owes Alan Parker one’; meaning he doesn’t think too highly of the performance here. Whether that’s a matter of self-deprecating criticism or a true confession of the effort of his craft, we’ll probably never know.
His scenes with De Niro are certainly strong, in a time when De Niro commanded such a collaborative raising-of-the-bar (which, aside from, maybe aiding James Franco‘s performance in City by the Sea, doesn’t seem to have happened for over a decade). For all of his mistakes and fallings down/out, Rourke has always had an uncanny aura of potential around his Actor’s Studio trained career that people only seem to have finely noticed with The Wrestler. He may be making Iron Man 2 for a paycheck, but let’s hope he puts in a few other suprises like The Pledge or even The Rainmaker in the future.
Lisa Bonet got a lot of flack for making this her first foray into post-Cosbyville, but the controversial scenes in question (two in particular that come to mind) seem to be slightly less so since the film’s release, in my opinion. I remember seeing this years ago and thinking it much stronger stuff…
As for the ending, which I won’t spoil here, I think it is still as powerful. You may have “figured it out” already, but that doesn’t detract from the emotion Rourke’s character displays. It’s a clever portrayal of a classical theme.
Let’s just hope it isn’t up for a remake anytime soon….There are way too many beautiful images in this film to choose from, but here are a few that probably shouldn’t be viewed side-by-side: