Leon Ichaso

"Piñero" tries too hard to be edgy and walks the line of pretentiousness. In this examination of late Latino poet Miguel Piñero, director Leon Ichaso places style over substance. But his style is unoriginal. He jumps back and forth in time, and as a result, pieces of the narrative are sometimes lost.

What sustains the movie is the power of Piñero's poetry, much of which is delivered by Benjamin Bratt, who stars in the lead role. It's a demanding part, and Bratt is surprisingly not bad. The same, however, can not be said about Talisa Soto, who plays his tough-as-nails, I've-seen-it-all-so-don't-even-try-to-mess-with-me girlfriend. She puts on such a rough exterior for the part that nothing can get through, including any signs of a subtle acting ability. Her character, as a result, is rather one-dimensional and she becomes a weak point in a cast of strong supporting actors, among them Michael Wright and Giancarlo Esposito of "Homicide" fame. One can't help but wonder how well he would have done in the lead role — if only he had the box office draw.