In a lot of ways, Neil Jordan’s Angel—the Irish director’s melodramatic debut—feels like a warm-up for the sort of ambitious, emotionally gripping, socially conscious operate he would turn into recognized for. It doesn’t fairly attain the power it really is in search of, and it is awfully rough about the edges, but there are moments when it becomes obvious that you happen to be looking at the function of a hungry young director who’s planning on generating anything of himself.
The film tells the story of Danny (Stephen Rea, The Crying Game), a saxophone player with a ratty-seeking mullet, a rumpled suit and a perpetual air of weariness. He plays with a small Irish band, traveling around the country and playing at a variety of nightclubs and other low-rent venues. He may have the look of an amateur, but his sax solos are soulful, passionate and raw. He almost certainly ought to be a larger star than he is, but he has a critical drinking difficulty that has held him back. When he is not drowning his sorrows with whiskey, he’s doggedly pursuing the ladies he encounters.
Danny isn’t precisely a suave charmer (he constantly appears like he needs a bath, and his modest talk is not precisely riveting), but his musical capabilities are enough to ensure that he does not have to commit a lot of nights alone. One particular evening, he begins making moves on a young deaf-mute woman at a dance hall in South Armagh. They hit it off, and the film begins to look and feel like a tender, unconventional romance. There won’t be much time for such pleasantries: the manager of Danny’s band is shot down in cold blood (it seems he was involved in some shady business deals that went south), and the girl—who witnessed the murder—is killed shortly thereafter. Danny goes into a individual tailspin, and speedily determines that he need to have revenge.
As in later Jordan films, revenge proves a complex, messy factor in Angel (released as Danny Boy in the U.S. in order to avoid confusion with a porn film producing the rounds at the time). The a lot more folks Danny kills (and he kills quite a handful of of them), the a lot more of himself he loses. He’s not the only a single who suffers: his on-and-off connection with Deirdre (Honor Heffernan)—the band’s lead singer—begins to deteriorate in some fairly alarming techniques. Rea’s face has often had a sad, weathered quality (even here, exactly where he’s a good deal younger than the version of him you happen to be almost certainly thinking of correct now), and that face is put to excellent use as Danny stumbles through his vain, violent quest. The character’s increasingly messy mental state tends to be matched by an increasingly disheveled appearance: cuts, bruises, dirty suits, unfinished haircuts.
Rea finds the correct tone for Danny, but otherwise, the performances tend to be a little flat, and Jordan struggles to generate a lot tension in scenes that ought to be nail-biting. Maybe it is a deliberate try to avoid presenting the movie as a juiced-up thriller, or maybe he just tried and failed to turn the film’s much more violent sequences into one thing gripping. Either way, Angel is at its ideal when Danny has his saxophone in his hands, as Jordan fills lengthy, languorous scenes of musically-charged melancholy with memorably dreamlike imagery and indelible jazz melodies.
The film is largely set in Northern Ireland, and the Troubles of the era have a way of lingering more than the film without having ever very entering it straight. Jordan has typically been fond of using metaphors and parables to make statements about the modern globe, and right here addresses the senseless violence of his residence nation by serving up yet another tale about the cycle of endless bloodshed. One particular particular person soon after one more is murdered, but no a single is ever happy and no conflict is ever ended. The beautiful music sends us up into the clouds for a short moment…and then we tumble back down into the mud, blood and sorrow of the world we live in.
Angel (Blu-ray) serves up a surprisingly strong 1080p/1.78:1 transfer. This is a modest, low-spending budget film from an era that sends to serve up fairly hit-and-miss transfers, but factors are typically quite sharp and clean all through. Detail is powerful, the moody color scheme is effectively-preserved and there’s a excellent deal of depth to the image. The DTS HD two. Master Audio track is a little less crisp, with a couple of bits of dialogue sounding a bit muffled right here and there. The music sounds regularly excellent, however. Supplements are limited to an isolated score-and-effects track and a booklet featuring an essay by Julie Kirgo.
This is a clunky but admirably ambitious debut. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release is short on extras, but gives an impressive transfer.