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Raising Victor Vargas back to product details

High on life
written by underdog September 29, 2003 - 9:33 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Peter Sollett's film, an expansion of the story he explored in the indie short Five Feet High and Rising, is beautifully rendered slice of New York life. The story -- an awkward romance between a cocky boy with a messed up family life and a hardened girl -- is fairly slight but it's the authenticity, the grittiness mixed with sweetness, the detailed way Sollett captures these kids' lives, that really elevates the film. The performances only occasionally bely the actors amateur status; for the most part they are so real and true to life that you forget you're watching a fictional film at all, but rather feel as if you're evesdropping on the lives of the marginal. And like a good documentary, learning something along the way.

The woman who plays Victor's grandmother, the poor old Dominican stuck raising three stir-crazy kids, is unforgettable. She's probably the least "professional" of all the actors in the film but in some ways the most memorable and real. You feel the sadness and regret she has for her life, the exasperation. And the role religion can play in the lives of immigrants, both positively and negatively. Judy Marte is also particularly wonderful as the girl Victor has his eye on. Tim Orr, who also did the cinematography for David Gordon Green's films (George Washington, All the Real Girls), does a nice job catching both the beauty and the harshness of the urban landscape, and the delicate nature of these relationships. Raising Victor Vargas is a subtle, nuanced, and ultimately uplifting little film that is everything Larry Clark's Kids was not. Patient viewers will be rewarded.


(Average 7.41)
153 Votes
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