RAISING VICTOR VARGAS – 9.3/10
Director: Peter Sollett
Writer: Peter Sollett
With an unknown cast and coming from a debut director, the film turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Raising Victor Vargas is a 'coming of age' film, if one might call it that, but in every sense of the word, extremely mature. With no special effects or dazzling visuals, Raising Victor Vargas is a must watch for sakes of storytelling and scriptwriting.
The film revolves around the story of a youngster Victor Vargas, a Dominican teenager, played exceptionally well by Victor Rasuk. Victor, who is out to regain his image after word of his affair with a 'fat' girl leaks to the neighborhood. To rise to his old glory, he must win over the pretty Judy Marte ('Juicy' Judy Gonzalez). For most parts, the story is just that. While detailing it any further would lead to spoilers, watch out for the most interesting aspects of the film, which in this case are precisely those parts which seem least relevant.
The film manages to charm, delight and appease with the smallest of details, ones that are almost always overlooked in films seeking to be larger than life. It is as though the writer/director has understood the simplest secret of storytelling. He deals with nuances of the youth, the teenagers and their daily lives in a very refined and mature manner. Not succumbing to obvious temptations of problems facing the youth, the director dodges all the clichés, from drugs to violence, from rape to vengeance.
There isn't really much to say about the film. It is shot in a few locations, with limited characters and resources. Yet the performances are fantastic, the script is simple and funny, the acting is outstanding. The film flows from one scene to the next and very soon without actually realizing it, we are living the lives of the characters, laughing and smiling with them, cheering and hooting for them. Sadly, we haven't seen a lot from Sollett since 2002; hope he makes an appearance soon.
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