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Angel 1982
Description: Saxophonist Danny witnesses the murder of his band manager and a deaf-mute woman after a gig. Questioned by the police, he remembers only the orthopedic shoes of the killers' leader. So starts his quest to avenge her. He seeks an respond to the easy question 'Why?' but finds only more, and deeper, questions which resonate with the wider context of 'the Troubles', the inter-communal strife gripping the modern-day Northern Ireland which is the film's setting.
Released: 14 May 1982 Director: Neil Jordan Writers: Neil Jordan Actors: Veronica Quilligan, Stephen Rea, Alan Devlin, Peter Caffrey Genres: Drama, Music
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Angel Reviews:

I suspect the pressures of commercialism to be the dominant factor behind the decline of some of the world's best directors in their final years. Sad examples contain 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 newest 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 movie like "Some Mother's Son" and "In The Name Of The Father". Rather is it a hero study of a highly talented saxophonist with an insecure temperament that even makes him doubt his ability as a musician. He becomes fully 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 adventures deeper into murderous darkness he starts 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 search ourselves remembering lines long afterwards in the same method that we do from movies as diverse as "The Third Man" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". The movie is also paced in such a skillful method that it can afford to pause to encompass such vignettes as Aunt Mae reading the tea-leaves and the Salvation Units musician who has played for them all but actually plays for the Lord. "Angel" is full of tiny features that hauntingly resonate long after the movie is over.


In this film we follow a young Irish sax user who accidentally witnesses the murder of a young mute woman he just met. He decides not to say anything to the police and track the assassins down all by himself. Even if it sounds like one, it is all but an action movie. What it really is, is a nice psychological drama which in spite of its cute amateurish style really embarks us in its story. Stephen Rea is as silent and as nice 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 should have done a film 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.


Although this movie can hardly be named a film with a well conceived plot it still has a lot of atmosphere that kept me watching the movie to the end. Stephen Rea is a nice 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 film very realistic and there is a melancholy to the movie that had me close to tears more than once. I thought how terrible it gotta be to live in shabby Ireland and to wear pink suits in order to catch some attention. Everything I saw in this film reminded me of something I read in a novel by Geanzino: How superb our thoughts can be and how ugly the circumstances are we live under.



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