Very cool and casual debut from Neil Jordan that shows a lot of confidence and craft. It points towards the genre/mundane mashings of Mona Lisa and The Crying Gamewonderfully. What starts out as a nightclub-bound character piece about a Jazz saxophonist suddenly turns into a bullet-ridden revenge flick. An unusual cocktail in that it plays both sides of the coin perfectly.
I always enjoy Stephen Rea in front of Jordan’s lens, otherwise I find him quite forgettable. He pulls off both the “down-on-his-luck” musician and gun-toting avenger modes of his character very well.
I’m a big fan of Jordan’s use of costumes to offset the drama. Similarly to how Bob Hoskins wears a pair of fair-ground sunglasses during his big scene at the end of Mona Lisa, here Rea sports a sparkly pink blazer throughout Angel‘s bloody denouement. It’s those details which makes Jordan’s films distinct and memorable. You can feel the influence of Paul Schrader (more so in Mona Lisa) but Jordan’s outlook is more romantic and hopeful than Schrader’s but his films remain grounded in some kind of neo-noir framework. Nobody really talks about this movie, but it is quintessentially Neil Jordan-esque and a worthwhile watch for fans of his later, more know works.