Raising Victor Vargas


Raising Victor Vargas
Peter Sollett
2002, Canal+, Forensic, Studio Canal, Untitled
88 minutes, English

LATAMROB rating: ***

IT’S NOT DEEP and the young love coming-of-age over the summer formula has been employed many times before, but you’ll like Raising Victor Vargas because it is a fresh and spontaneous take on the genre. Victor (Victor Rasuk) is an awkward Dominican youth raised amid the poverty of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and, at 16, now struggling with his hormones. The plot follows the trials and tribulations of the boy’s efforts to woo ‘Juicy’ Judy Gonzalez (Judy Marte). Although Peter Sollett has reworked an ancient formula, this film deserves the many plaudits it gained, not least because of the director’s decision to draw his cast from South East Manhattan’s housing projects and to allow them to improvise much of the dialogue, giving Raising Victor Vargas a spontaneity and modesty that would otherwise have been hard to achieve. The result is a sensitive and honest study of puppy love. – EC