PIñERO Image


By Michael Dequina | December 31, 2001

Miguel Piñero was a thief, a junkie, an ex-con, and a celebrated poet/playwright/actor who died at the tragically young age of 41 — in short, a role tailor-made for Oscar consideration for a fortunate Latin actor. Unfortunately for the audience, that actor is Benjamin Bratt, and the film both he and they get is Leon Ichaso’s slick and shallow biopic. In an apparent attempt to capture the rebellious spirit of his subject’s life and art, Ichaso doesn’t tell Piñero’s story in a linear fashion, haphazardly bouncing through randomly placed vignettes: various instances of Piñero scoring (or attempting to score) drugs and committing various other crimes; Piñero meeting and falling for sultry actress Sugar (Talisa Soto, impressive in a nothing role), who seeks a commitment from the ever-noncommittal man; glimpses of Piñero suffering sexual abuse as a child (presented as a catch-all explanation for his destructive behavior); Piñero reciting various poems; and his stint in prison, where he writes his award-winning play “Short Eyes.” In order for Ichaso’s DV/16mm, color/black-and-white hodgepodge to have any impact, emotionally or otherwise, there needed to be a forceful central performance to bring the pieces together, but Bratt’s fast-talking, all-attitude interpretation is showboating without soul–which can be said of the entire movie.

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