Raising Victor Vargas

December, 2003, Drama

Clocking in at a brief 88 minutes, Raising presents yet another new writer/director, (Peter Sollett) at work in this small, but keenly observed coming-of-age study, set in New York's Lower East Side. Victor's a hormonal 17 yr. old, aching to actually become the Latino stud he considers himself to be. Seeking to overcome the disgrace of being caught with one of the neighborhood skags, he aggressively courts Judy, a neighborhood beauty so turned off by the macho aggressiveness of the guys at the local swimming pool she's sworn off men altogether. Victor Rasuk, a young actor with an engaging smile, plays his character with an uncanny knack for conveying the completely oblivious manner he employs when making his romantic moves. Full of a self-assurance that's felt rather than real, he pontificates about what "turns chicks on" to his younger brother, and wars with a half-sister who sees his bravado-façade for exactly what it is. 

This trio lives in a cramped apartment presided over by "Moms", their grandmother. When Judy's younger brother falls for Victor's despised little sister, and Moms discovers that Victor's had a hand in their courtship, (and that telltale lipstick traces on a glass indicate Judy's been making unauthorized visits to their apartment) she becomes convinced that Victor's leading his siblings straight to hell in a hand basket.  If Judy, (a smoldering young beauty named Judy Marte) is just a shade too mature and self-composed to succumb to Victor's awkward attentions and the ending arrives a bit too conveniently, this affectionate examination of real-world family ties employs genuinely credible dialogue in every scene and spot-on characterizations which suggest that Mr. Sollett has a great future behind the camera. This one is a great debut that will appeal mainly to the under 30 set. And "Moms" ought to be accused of grand theft for stealing every scene she's in.

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