Director: James Mangold
Screenwriters: James Mangold

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


In upstate New York, seemingly located off the beaten highway, is a roadside tavern, Pete and Dolly’s, where Victor, an introverted, overweight pizza chef, maintains his daily vigil. Under the domineering sway of his mother, Dolly (Shelley Winters), Victor cooks her an elaborate breakfast every morning and does whatever else she wants. It amounts to a very passive, out-of-the-mainstream existence.

Into his settled little world comes Callie, a beautiful, but directionless, college dropout, whom Victor immediately develops a crush on. Reticent nearly to the point of invisibility, Victor can barely manage to communicate with her, but they casually interact, which stimulates Victor, trapped in his stagnant and empty life, to further obsession. Delores (Deborah Harry), a veteran, hard-boiled waitress, still sexy and perhaps a little too available, and Leo the barfly (Joe Grifasi) complete the circumscribed universe of the tavern. As circumstances change, conflicts emerge and then erupt, and Victor must face the world around him with a changed perspective and different responsibilities.

Beautifully enacted, subtle and deliberate, Heavy establishes a tone and atmosphere that perfectly capture the depression and insularity of Victor’s existence. Characters become fleshy and real as James Mangold develops them as part of a narrative which is intricate, carefully conceived, and slowly realized. But without question, the emotional payoffs are worth waiting for, and Victor’s struggles become a stage on which we observe the human condition and our universal need for love.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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