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Heavy Review

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Victor is a cook who works in a greasy bar/restaurant owned by his mother, Dolly. It's just the two of them, a waitress named Delores, and a heavy drinking regular, Leo. But things change when Callie, a beautiful college drop-out, shows up as a new waitress and steals Victor's heart. But Victor is too shy to do anything about it, and too self-consciously overweight to dream of winning Callie away from her demanding boyfriend, Jeff.

★★★★

It’s easy to see why Heavy, the first feature from writer-director Mangold, won this year’s Sundance Festival’s special prize for superior direction. It tells a simple story that unfolds as slow as molasses in January, but with a sweetness to match. The pace never once lessens the impact, slow and steady being the best possible way to pull on anyone’s heart-strings.
Mangold’s secret is to let his film revolve hypnotically around a stunning central performance by Pruit Taylor Vince (last seen as Paul Newman’s buddy in Nobody’s Fool). With this hub in place, the idea that this may be just another predictable film set in a sleepy backwater roadside diner soon evaporates. The diner is owned by Dolly (Winters) who upsets her hard-nosed head waitress Delores (Harry) by hiring Callie (Tyler), a young college drop-out, to help out. Victor is the diner’s pizza chef, a big man of painfully few words, “a giant that no one can see”. When his domineering mother goes into hospital, Victor copes silently while watching Callie and helplessly trying to communicate his affection for her.
Tyler’s performance is captivating. An impossibly beautiful picture of innocence with a boyfriend (Evan Dando) who doesn’t deserve her and an admirer who can only wish he wasn’t so, well, heavy(ital). But Callie does(ital) notice Victor and, if not love, they eventually share tender moments that prompt Victor to reveal his saddest secret. With a superb soundtrack (Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore wrote the original score) and a cast to match, Heavy is a magical debut, at once a heart-rending and uplifting experience.

Affecting debut with a clutch of enviable performances.

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