Heavy

on June 05, 1996 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   A Sundance special award winner for directing, "Heavy" is the type of "working class" movie that impresses because it's about a slice of American life that is rarely seen onscreen. That's true enough but despite its virtues, "Heavy" isn't quite the cinematic revelation the hype makes it out to be.
   The movie's title refers to Victor ("Beautiful Girls'" Pruitt Taylor Vince), an overweight pizza chef who is simply marking time, tucked away in his mother's greasy spoon in upstate New York. Introverted to a fault, the inarticulate Victor has fallen into a dull routine, cooking breakfast for his overbearing mother (Shelley Winters) and then heading off to work. But when beautiful young college dropout Callie ("Stealing Beauty's" Liv Tyler) is hired as a waitress, Victor is consumingly smitten, and slowly begins to make changes in his life.
   As Victor, one of the more unique protagonists to come along in some time, Vince is a revelation. He never overdoes his character or plays him as the "fat" stereotype evident in most movies. Victor's unrequited love for Callie is almost painful to watch, so fine is his performance.
   The rest of the cast also shines. Winters puts a compassionate spin on her part, which doesn't play out as expected. Tyler fleshes out Callie beyond her rather underwritten character. And Debbie Harry ("Hairspray") gives one of her best performances as Delores, the hard-bitten, somewhat promiscuous waitress who is jealous of the new girl at work.
   "Heavy" effectively delineates those people whose lives merely exist on the margins of society. But the movie is a little too self-conscious about its subject. Mangold just can't keep himself from overindulging in long, lingering shots of Victor's wallpaper, his mother's tacky knickknacks, and his banal surroundings. As a result, "Heavy" is overwhelmed by its symbolic, portentous weight. Only its actors redress that imbalance.    Starring Pruitt Taylor Vince, Liv Tyler and Shelley Winters. Written and directed by James Mangold. Produced by Richard Miller. A CF/P release. Drama. Running time: 104 min.
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