Heavy/B+,A-

Columbia/1995/104m/ANA 1.78

     Ever stand at the supermarket checkout and wonder about the woman with severe acne working the register? Remember the car salesman with perspiration staining the armpits of his sports jacket? You couldnít wait to get away from him, but did you give him a second thought afterwards? The guy driving the bus is so fat he barely fits in the seat, but once youíre off the bus, do you ever wonder about why he eats so much? The answer to every question is likely to be no. Well, Heavy is that unusual film that looks at a character much like these, wonders about his life, and then examines it. Itís a powerful first film from James Mangold who wrote and directed this quiet and moving look at those who life passes by without a second glance.

It's pizza time. ©Columbia Tristar

     Pruitt Taylor Vince is Victor. He works in his motherís restaurant and bar somewhere in no manís land upstate New York. Liv Tyler is Callie who gets a job as a waitress at Pete and Dollyís Restaurant. Deborah Harry is Delores who has been waiting tables at the restaurant for fifteen years. Shelly Winters is Dolly, old, bitter, and totally possessive of Victor. 
     Mangold is blessed by some incredible performances in Heavy. Pruitt Taylor Vince has so few lines. Mostly heís shyly looking at people or fumbling with everything except food.  He makes Victor a real person, a person you care about. You want Victor, despite his obvious problems, to find his bit of sunshine. Liv Tyler is very beautiful in this film. She displays a remarkable sensibility toward others. Shelly Winters does some of the best work in years, calmly creating Dolly with fine control. And Deborah Harry is just wonderful as the second fiddle behind the bar.
     Mangold uses the camera with elegance, revealing his characters by what surrounds them. Time and again the camera pans the contents of a room in a horizontal sweep. He does some great work with several interior car scenes, keeping them from stalling in the static confined space.  Mangoldís script is at all times respectful of his characters. This is an outstanding first time effort from the filmmaker.
      Look at how clear the background details are on this DVD. The patterns on the wallpaper are defined with three-dimensional reality. Newsprint is sharply in focus. The range of color in each scene is solidly handled. Red glow lighting is maintained without distorting the picture.  The Dolby Digital 2-Channel sound is clean but flat. The only minor rush is from low flying overhead airplanes. The music tracks, dialog, and ambient activity are all clear. 

     Mangoldís audio commentary provides a great description of the genesis of Heavy. He quotes a line from a poem right at the beginning and I almost wish these lines were included as a prelude introduction. They are quite powerful and explain a lot of what comes in Heavy. Mangold is very helpful and encouraging to young filmmakers, offering them tips and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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