Bruce Fretts
May 23, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Writer-director James Mangold’s debut drama beautifully showcases the unvarnished acting style of Liv Tyler, who plays a waitress in a small-town diner. Yet it’s Pruitt Taylor Vince, in a largely wordless turn as an introverted short-order cook, whose performance really sticks to your bones; had he been born in another era, Vince could have been a great silent-film star. Mangold, whose next movie is the star-laden Cop Land, due in theaters this fall, also draws excellent work from his eclectic supporting cast (what other film features Shelley Winters and head Lemonhead Evan Dando?). The unremarkable lives of these dead-end characters may have seemed too small to fill the big screen, but on home video Heavy makes for weighty fare. A-

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