Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 31
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 31
  3. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Sollett’s first feature is a small, but indelible picture, one that approaches the most universal of themes -– first love, confused hormones, parental clashes -– with originality.
  2. There's a good heart beating at the core of Victor Vargas, one that belies its R-rating.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    The ''R'' rating is understandable, but absurd. This is a family film in the most complicated and, ultimately, most cheering sense.
  4. Warmly recommended to viewers who like their romantic comedies small-scale but life-size.
  5. 88
    It's the kind of movie you know you can trust, and you give yourself over to affection for these characters who are so lovingly observed.
  6. In the tradition of indie films "Girlfight" and "George Washington," Sollett's emotive, sub-improvising style leads to pitch-perfect performances from a watertight cast in a loose, joyfully fresh film.
  7. At once sympathetic and unsentimental, this is a model of low-budget storytelling on a human scale.
  8. While Sollett provided cast members with a detailed breakdown of the story--a kind of narrative guide--he wanted them to improvise their own dialogue based on how they would react to a similar situation in their own lives....The result is quite extraordinary.
  9. The writer-director, Peter Sollett, cast the film with kids from his own neighborhood, who give themselves over to the camera with a spirit of improvised play that morphs into vivid, layered acting.
  10. 90
    Victor Vargas has the look and feel of a neo-realist masterpiece, yet captures New York with a burnished authenticity not seen since the glory days of ’70s American cinema.
  11. His film may be something of a beautiful lie, but what's true about Sollett's characters is that their dreams, their grace and their struggles are as real as it gets.
  12. 88
    There's nothing in the utterly enchanting Raising Victor Vargas you haven't seen before; you'd just be hard-pressed to name another movie that did it as well.
  13. There's something uniquely gratifying about watching nonprofessionals deliver totally natural performances.
  14. A comedy in the best sense--it draws its life from the pitch-perfect authenticity of its characters.
  15. 75
    A love letter to a New York neighborhood that is rapidly disappearing -- a tight-knit Dominican community.
  16. 100
    One of the purest instances of indie cinema this year. "Pure" meaning that in every aspect of filmmaking and intent this picture is peerless, so truly real, funny, poignant and sexy that it almost feels like a watershed cinematic moment.
  17. 75
    Writer-director Peter Sollett takes the familiar and turns it into hot, heartfelt movie magic.
  18. 80
    A modest and tightly focused picture, and its very directness makes it piercingly intimate.
  19. Reviewed by: Carla Meyer
    75
    A gritty but sweet look at young love and family dynamics.
  20. Comes together with a wry sense of humor, a total lack of gratuitous movie nonsense and a graceful dignity that allows the humanity of his characters to shine through in a very special way.
  21. 80
    What makes Raising Victor Vargas so special, beyond its irresistible charisma, is how Sollett and his cast capture the thrill of first love.
  22. A grownup departure from the teen-romance norm -- it speaks nothing about passion and volumes about trust.
  23. This is Sollett's first feature film -- he has previously made only one short -- and it shows, more than exceptional talent for cinema itself, his ability to evoke character, in a kind of sidewise offhand way, and to create a sense of community both within and around the film.
  24. 90
    Delicate and altogether satisfying romantic comedy.
  25. 70
    Nothing very important happens, but, moment by moment, the movie is alive with the play of gesture and glances, aggression and withdrawal. [31 March 2003, p.106]
  26. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    Landed exactly the right actors for a script that already gets points for respecting its teenage characters.
  27. I loved this movie, and I wish it could be seen by all those kids who turn out every weekend for shoddy studio comedies that show them who they'd like to be. Raising Victor Vargas shows young lovers as they are.
  28. Succeeds where 100 studio-generated teen romances -- starring the bland, the blunt or the blow-dried -- have failed.
  29. Reviewed by: Laura Winters
    80
    As fresh -- and as restorative -- as a lemon ice on a hot day.

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