Sweet Nothing

or How None Of Us Has Seen This One (Yet)

….. by TeeJay

The Plot

Angel and Monika had the kind of marriage nothing could come between.

Like any number of other struggling New York couples, they shared an existence of simple pleasures and modest expectations. He held down a middle-income job on Wall Street that kept them in a tidy apartment just big enough for their small family. Their lives were unremarkable and steady, but Angel (MICHAEL IMPERIOLI) wanted more for Monika (MIRA SORVINO) and their young son. Though inspired to become a better provider for his family, Angel simply couldn’t figure out the way to accomplish it.

Then, on the night of his daughter’s birth, he takes his first inhalation from a crack pipe offered by his friend, Raymond (PAUL CALDERON). Just a one-time thing. No big deal.

But the ephemeral liberation and fleeting empowerment of the drug haunt him and lure him back again and again. When Raymond propositions Angel with a scheme to deal drugs, it makes perfect sense to Angel. It’s quick, easy money — the ticket to the better life he’s always wanted for his family. Even Monika’s initial concerns are deferred when Angel starts bringing home some material rewards. She buys his promises that his dealing is only temporary.

Angel wants to believe those promises himself. But the availability of the drug is too much for him. With a constant supply of crack always at hand, Angel becomes a chronic user, devoted more to the high than anything else, including his own family. Angel starts to slip down a spiral of debt and desperation — at first almost imperceptibly as he keeps up all outward appearances, but with increasing recklessness and obsession. Even Raymond, who introduced him to the world of dealing, pulls away from Angel as he begins to consume more than he sells.

As Angel’s unforgiving creditors come calling, he has to rely on his one remaining skill of selling drugs to come up with enough money to protect his own life. Crippled by his desire for the drug and entangled in an overwhelming financial bind, Angel comes to the defining point of his slide downward. He would sacrifice everything to regain his simple life of modest expectations, to win back Monika and his young children, to forsake the addiction that has come to rule him.

If it’s not too late.

“Sweet Nothing” is a contemporary urban drama that turns an unflinching eye on the catastrophic effects of drug use on a middle-class family. The cast is led by Michael Imperioli, a favorite character actor of many directors, whose recent credits include “I Shot Andy Warhol,” “Dead Presidents” and “Clockers”; and Mira Sorvino, who earned the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for “Mighty Aphrodite” and whose other credits include “Quiz Show,” “Barcelona” and “Beautiful Girls.”

“Sweet Nothing” is distributed by Warner Bros. following a successful and critically praised history on the film-festival circuit, where it received widespread enthusiasm and acclaim at the Seattle International Film Festival and the Boston Film Festival, among others.

The insightful drama is directed by Gary Winick, who produces along with Rick Bowman. The executive producer is Mark Ross, and the film was written by Lee Drysdale. The behind-the-camera creative team includes director of photography MAKOTO WATANABE, production designer AMY TAPPER and editor NIELS MUELLER. The music is by STEVEN M. STERN.

Source: warnerbros.com

The Character

Richie. Never seen the movie, so I have no clue who Richie exactly is or how big Chris’s role is in the movie. I’d say it’s a safe bet it’s fairly small, but I could be wrong.

The Story

This is taken straight off the Warner Bros’ movie website:

“Drugs are tremendously seductive. What other way does someone have to control the way they feel whenever they want?,” notes director Gary Winick, commenting on the psychology that might entice a person like Angel to become entrapped in the world of using and dealing. Angel might not embody the popular conception of a crack user, but the idea that all users are street-level gangbanger types proves to be narrow-minded, as the filmmakers discovered in their research. Even a “street” drug like crack cuts across all socio-economic levels. Once lured in by the feelings of empowerment that the drug imparts, however, most users fall into a common pattern.

“The addict’s behavior, though wildly interesting, is very predictable. It’s governed by ritual. Every day is plotted around the procurement and use of the drug,” says Winick. Angel’s own shift from Wall Street worker to streetside pusher is related through a series of voice-overs read from his journals which document his feelings as he rationalizes his use and dealing. This cinematic device was inspired by diaries found by the filmmakers in a Bronx apartment which chronicle an addict’s own fall into abuse.

Winick explains, “The journals we found inspired me to implement diaries into the film as the best way to dramatize Angel’s life. The conflict of the addict’s love for his family expressed in words and his actions against them in the real world was very compelling.”

The contradiction between impulse and action is reflected in the relationship betwen Angel and his wife, Monika, who powerlessly witnesses her husband’s metamorphosis. Mira Sorvino, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Woody Allen’s comedy, “Mighty Aphrodite,” plays the difficult role of Monika, who is the classic embodiment of the co-dependent spouse. Although she believes Angel’s hollow promises and is placated by the trappings of his new lifestyle for awhile, she grows increasingly frustrated and recognizes her husband’s dependency before he can himself.

“Monika deals with her feelings by not addressing them. In a sense, she’s addicted to her husband. The tragedy is that once Monika becomes strong enough to respect herself, deal with her feelings and finally be rid of Angel, that is the moment when he is capable of a new relationship with her. The question becomes, however, is it too little, too late?”

The Trivia

Chris’s younger brother Sean also had a role in the movie, he’s listed as playing Young Richie, so he’s probably playing Chris’s character at a younger age. It was actually the first time Chris and Sean played the same character and it wouldn’t be the last time.