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Raising Victor Vargas (Special Edition)

4.3 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Riding high on a wave of unanimous critical acclaim, Raising Victor Vargas emerged as one of the best independent films of 2003. It fits neatly into that most familiar of categories--the coming-of-age comedy--but transcends that label to become something altogether fresh and endearing, beginning with the awkward swagger of its title character, played by Victor Rasuk. He's a Dominican kid raised amidst the poverty of New York's Lower East Side, and his hormones--like those of any 16-year-old--are ablaze with unbridled lust. Under the vigilant eye of his grandmother (who's hilariously convinced the good-boy Victor is doomed to a life of sin), Victor manages to woo the defiant girl of his dreams (Judy Marte--like the rest of this fine cast, a non-professional actor), and director Peter Sollett (expanding his earlier short Five Feet High and Rising) guides them to a delicate place of genuine affection and mutual understanding. It's a summertime fantasy, of sorts, but so simple and sincere that it achieves a state of idealized realism. First love never looked better. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Short film: "Five Feet High and Rising," on which Raising Victor Vargas was based
  • Featurette: "Five Feet High and Rising Companion," a look at the cast of the short film
  • Production stills

Product Details

  • Actors: Victor Rasuk, Donna Maldonado, Kevin Rivera, Krystal Rodriguez, Judy Marte
  • Directors: Peter Sollett
  • Writers: Peter Sollett, Eva Vives
  • Producers: Alain de la Mata, Cate Wilson, Emma Wilcockson, Eva Vives, Jean-Michel Dissard
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: August 24, 2004
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002HODEA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,762 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Raising Victor Vargas (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Quido VINE VOICE on March 12, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Although independent films such as this have virtually no DVD extras, sometimes the subtleties of the film itself can more easily be grasped on the small screen than in the theater. I saw "Raising Victor Vargas" in both venues, and preferred the intimacy of the DVD.
"Juicy Judy", played by Judy Marte in Peter Sollett's 2003 independent film, "Raising Victor Vargas" has no intention of being impressed by the insouciant Victor (Victor Rasuk) of title fame. She's grown through adolescence in the poor area of New York's lower east side. She's remained aloof to the enticements that come to her because of her beauty and look of wariness. She prefers to spend her time with best friend Melonie (Melonie Diaz), talking about life and love; exasperated by how much she is approached by men and boys. She's drawn a shell about herself, her composure untouched, her lack of trust in anyone outside Melonie and her family is palpable. We see her early on with only one gesture of instantaneous emotion, and that is when she impulsively hugs and kisses her chubby little brother at the community pool. If Director Sollett missed anything in this movie, it is a better glimpse of Judy's family life, what things contributed to her sense of pride and why she is so comfortable in her aloneness, not falling prey to the syndrome that is pride and risk-taking by beautiful young girls.
We see Judy through the eyes of Victor Vargas. Victor appears to be much younger than he is - he's trying to live down a tryst with the "fat girl" Donna, in the neighborhood. Victor has been practicing his initial sexual moves with Donna, and, in the opening scene, they are clumsy and almost endearing. Less so is the speed with which he discards Donna.
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Format: VHS Tape
Victor Vargas (Victor Rasuk) is a teenager from Manhattan's Lower East Side. He lives with his grandmother (Altagracia Guzman), his little brother Nino (Silvestre Rasuk) and his sister Vicki (Krystal Rodriguez). He's a nice guy. He likes to impress his friends and dole out dating advice to his younger brother. He likes a young woman from the neighborhood named Judy (Judy Marte). Judy is aloof, jaded by all the men who hit on her constantly and not interested in having a boyfriend. But Victor is persistent and does his best to be a gentleman towards her. Judy finally consents to being Victor's woman, mostly so she can tell her other suitors that she is spoken for. As she spends more time with Victor, Judy comes to like his earnest charm and considers the possibility of having a real relationship. Meanwhile, Victor's grandmother, a woman in her 70's who grew up on a farm in the Dominican Republic, is at her wits end. Her grandchildren are essentially good kids, but Nino, her favorite, is growing up, and Victor has become an independent young man. Grandma simply doesn't know how to handle the situation. Victor has to make peace with his grandmother and help her understand that they all need each other in spite of their differences.

"Raising Victor Vargas" reminds me of the "cinema verite" style of filmmaking that became fashionable in the 1960's. The film shows us a realistic slice of life and at times has a strong documentary flavor. The film's young cast is wonderful. Victor Vargas is a charismatic and sympathetic young man who makes the audience hope that he is understood by his grandmother and succeeds with his girlfriend. Writer and director Peter Sollett makes everyday events in the lives of these young Hispanic Americans interesting and poignant.
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Format: DVD
This 2003 independent film is about young love. It was written and directed by 26-year old Peter Sollett, and has all the earmarks of a fresh young filmmaker.
The story is simple. Victor Vargas, played by Victor Rasuk, is a teenage boy who is looking for love. He lives with his grandmother, played by Altagracia Guzman, and his younger brother and sister in a poor, but idealized neighborhood in New York City. His grandmother, who had emigrated from the Dominican Republic years before, clearly loves her grandchildren and does her best to keep the family together. However, she's a little too quick to consider them depraved simply because Victor is romancing a girl and because his younger brother, played by Silvestre Rusuk, is experimenting with is own sexuality behind closed bathroom doors. In an inspired bit of casting, these two real-life brothers look so much alike that it gives the feel of a real family.
Victor meets the girl of his dreams, Judy Marte, and they begin a romance. They are both inexperienced and it takes a while for their first kiss. There are a few twists and turns to the plot, and some obstacles which get in the way, but basically it is just a sweet love story. One of the most interesting things about the story though is that there are no guns, drugs or violent acts. They might be living in a neighborhood known for these things but yet they are all remarkably innocent.
I enjoyed the film and thought it was well done. But frankly, it was a little too simple for my personal tastes. It seemed to me like amateurs doing their best in a first film. Which, of course, is exactly what it is. I must give the film an "A" for effort though. And I look forward to watching the growth of this filmmaker.
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