Like gravity, there are certain universal laws to living life. Many of us have known, and seen, the ravages that addiction has on a person, particularly drug use. Living a life of drug use never ends well. And for the main character “Victor” in the new urban faith film that carries his name, we see a life that unravels due to heroin use. Victor, both the character and the actor playing him, Patrick Davis, are extremely likable and thus we are hooked.
The movie is a period piece about urban life. It’s rare enough to get a faith-based film about urban culture, but then to also have it be a retrospective from the late 50’s and early 60’s is refreshing. (It would easily be tempting to set the story in modern day, but the producers chose to keep the story in it’s historical context.) Adding to the vision is rich cinematography, production design, and costume design, by Byron Shah, Denise Hudson, and Lynette Meyer, respectively. These artistic disciplines solidify the feeling of the film and bring authenticity to a true story that also rings true to so many people. The presentation is a timeline of Victor’s life from a teenager to early adulthood through his struggle in addiction, gang life, meeting a girl, and then redemption due to his loving family and a church in the wrong part of town. There are no side stories which keeps the production one-dimensional, but the directing is solid with heartwarming performances especially by Lisa Vidal (Victor’s mother, “Lila”) and Haley Ramm (Victor’s girlfriend, “Sherry”). Also familiar faces in the film are Jose Zuniga (Victor’s father, “Manuel”) and Lobo Sebastian (a mob boss drug dealer, “Sanchez”).
Greg Wilkerson, son of David Wilkerson (The Cross and the Switchblade and founder of Teen Challenge, a highly successful drug recovery program), is the executive producer of the film, carrying the legacy of his father in running World Challenge, the parent organization of Teen Challenge. Rosalinda Rivera, the daughter of of the real-life Victor from the film, is an associate producer of the movie, and helps run New Life for Youth that her dad founded, which gives the movie a solid stamp of authenticity. (We were fortunate to have Rosalinda present at our screening of the film at the Jam the Hype Film Festival in Azusa this May.) The executives behind the film are steeped in the legacy of sharing the love of Christ through rehabilitation programs that continue having an impact even half a century later from the events portrayed in the movie.
Victor is a drama meant to be a motivational story, speaking to those who are either struggling with drug/alcohol addiction or who have family members or friends dealing with the same. To many it will be very close to home. To others, it will be a moving story that can be enjoyed at face value, and to some it will warn of dangers to come. Regardless of what audience you are in, Victor is a story that is human because we all have issues – the stuff that we must come to terms with, or things that we never thought we’d get involved in. And we need a way out. So, Victor touches us all.