Sweet Nothing (Gary Winick)

Rating: ** (out of ****)

Mira Sorvino's Oscar-winning work in Mighty Aphrodite presumably was the most important factor in the belated theatrical debut of Winick's low-budget independent film, apparently shot sometime in late 1993 (Carlito's Way and Malice are visible on a theater marquee in one scene). Unfortunately, she doesn't have much to do, and nothing else in the film is terribly interesting, either, though there are some decent performances (especially that of Michael Imperioli in the lead). Hollywood told this story in The Boost (the infamous James Woods/Sean Young flick which led to bizarre threats and court orders) back in 1988, and while Sweet Nothing isn't as bombastically awful as that movie, it suffers from many of the same flaws: predictable, hackneyed narrative; fake grittiness; reliance on clichés; general absence of a point ("what's that? you say drug addiction is *bad*?!). Winick and writer Lee Drysdale based the story on a diary they found in a Bronx apartment (we hear many of the real diary entries in voiceover), and while it's mildly affecting to know that somebody really went through the events we see onscreen, the painful fact is that they're events we've seen onscreen many, many times before -- his life, while sad, just isn't very compelling as drama. Don't tell him I said so, okay?