Talented and tragic historical figures often make for riveting drama, particularly if the aforementioned individuals leave the scene way before their time. This certainly can be said of Puerto Rican playwright-poet-actor Miguel Piñero, the drug-addicted protagonist of writer-director Leon Ichaso's impassioned but uneven biopic Piñero.

Benjamin Bratt is provocative in the role of Miguel Piñero, the troubled and disillusioned force behind the notable work Short Eyes, produced during one of Piñero's incarceration stints in the mid '70s. Bratt effectively exudes the pain and anger that transcends some posturing material, with a portrayal as lyrical as the throbbing beat of the movie's Latin-induced soundtrack. While the propensity for audiences to get caught up in Piñero's wayward world of instability is almost inevitable, the movie follows an uncharted path by trying to reinforce the demons without really being perceptive about Piñero's undeniable skill as a writer. The cliché about creative minds who become consumed by their art is almost a manipulation here. The film is valiant in the way it strides for that redemptive note as it tries to make us accept (and understand) his premature death of cirrhosis in 1988.

Continue reading: Piñero Review