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Raising Victor Vargas

Love and Sweat on the Lower East Side

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By Marcy B. Dermansky

Raising Victor Vargas
"Raising Victor Vargas" is a special film, independent in the truest sense of the word. Parker Posey is nowhere to be found, not even lurking at the Avenue D corner bodega to buy some ciggies. Peter Sollett's debut brings kids to the screen you usually don't get to see. They live in squalid, chicken-infested New York City, struggling through hot summer days looking for a small bit of happiness.

Victor Vargas (Victor Rasuk) is seventeen. He has a big ego and seemingly not much else going for him. He shares a cramped room in a one bedroom apartment with his younger brother (played by his actual brother Silvestre, unmistakable with the matching eye brows and foppish hair) and his petulant half-sister, under the supervision of their Dominican grandmother who's tired of raising kids. When Victor falls for the neighborhood's most beautiful girl, Juicy Judy (Judy Marte), he has to allow himself to open up. Posing at the public pool won't work, nor will his adolescent shirtless chest. The ego cracks, the grandmother cooks the family hamburgers, and slowly, a love story begins.

"Raising Victor Vargas" opened to critical acclaim, screening at Cannes, the New Directors Film Series, and the Sundance Film Festival. The film is only 88 minutes long and suffused with authentic teenage yearning. Really, it's quite lovely.

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