Dan Ireland's impressive debut feature The Whole Wide World died quietly at the box office despite making many a critic's ten-best list for 1996. His followup, The Velocity of Gary, may suffer the same fate, given its modest budget and a story line focused on male bisexuality. That would be a shame, because the film has much to recommend it despite a sometimes stagey air traceable to its origins as a solo theater piece. Vincent D'Onofrio plays Valentino, a charismatic porn star who presides over a motley miscellany of beautiful losers: girlfriend Mary Carmen (Salma Hayek), boyfriend Gary (Thomas Jane), and various drag queens and porn-star parasites. When Vincent becomes ill with AIDS, these already shaky alliances shift considerably before stabilizing into a semblance of family. A believably bittersweet mood and strong acting drive the film; particularly notable are Hayek, who exudes passion while deftly dodging the "hot Latina" stereotype, and D'Onofrio, who's both powerful and poignant as the world-weary stud.
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