There is such a fine line between unrequited love and stalking, and it takes finesse and talent to walk that line as a filmmaker. With his debut film, James Mangold, future icon in the making, walks that line carefully, delivering a poignant drama about insecurity, self-worth, and the pain of loneliness. It's a film that hit home a number of times and made me take a bit of a reflective look at some of my own insecurities. This is the guy who would go on to give us Girl, Interrupted, Logan, Ford v Ferrari, and the next Indiana Jones movie. Suffice it to say, he knows what he's doing, and now I know he always has.
If it weren't for the pacing, which is remarkably slow, I'd call this a winner. But it drags on quite a bit at times and could probably lose a good fifteen minutes. For the most part, we follow Victor (Vince), an overweight, insecure cook who makes pizzas at his mother's (Winters) restaurant. It's all he's ever done, and he's unhappy but too shy to change anything about his life. Then, Callie (Tyler) is hired as a waitress. She's a college dropout with a deadbeat boyfriend, and Victor falls head over heels. He can see her life falling apart, but he doesn't know how to console her or make things better, and things only get worse for Victor when his mother has a heart attack. Now, rampant change threatens Victor's simple existence, and he starts to spiral. It's a very human story that zeroes in on situations we all understand but never talk about.
Pruitt Taylor Vince delivers a hell of a performance as Victor, and really keeps this thing mostly interesting from start to finish. There are several moments where I wish Victor had had the strength to stand up for himself or for Callie, but that just wouldn't be true to the character. Like I said, the pace of the film really slows things down dramatically, but it is an impressive debut nonetheless.