Lil Poison, a massive productions documentary chronicles a year (or so) in the life of the world’s youngest pro- gamer Victor De Leon III. Having started gaming at the age of 2 and entering competitions at the tender age of 4 Mr. Deleon has the distinction of being the youngest pro gamer in the world. Unfortunately life is not all fun and games, as Lil Poison must face the demands of competitive gaming in the midst of the turbulent and at times ugly affair of his parents divorce. Admittedly I went into this movie with preconceived notions on the film’s outcome.
I was all set to discuss the frivolity of allowing a kid to spend countless hours playing a video game. I was also sure his parents were divorcing because they each wanted a bigger stake in his growing empire. I was totally wrong. Victor is a likable adorable child who at times is painfully shy. His shyness is not the result of hours of solitude, its just part of his charm. He is also surprisingly well rounded, he enjoys classical music, karate and plays violin. The story is more about the struggle to gain notoriety in an overpopulated market, and the rush to cash in before the novelty of being the youngest expires.
I enjoyed this film, but must admit it was difficult to watch at times. I found myself feeling so sorry for Victor and the chaos his life had become. I also sympathized with his mother who seemed genuinely concerned about her son but ultimately powerless in controlling the unhealthy relationship with his father. The Father was another story all together. He is portrayed as a selfish ego maniac looking to cash in on his son’s talent. It isn’t until you’ve had a few days to come down from the outrage of some of his statements that you realize that the poor man is human and was only doing what he thought best at the time. With any film there must be a villain and Victor II is given that unpleasant role. He is portrayed as childish self serving, and at times incredibly harsh.
I highly recommend this film for parents of very smart or talented children. It could be a great tool to start a dialogue on the advantages as well as the pitfalls of managing a child’s career. The decisions parents make regarding child performers ultimately shape the lives of these children far into adulthood. Their choices can mean the difference between a Dakota Fanning and Lindsay Lohan, think about it.
Victor De Leon, father of Lil Poison at the NYILFF
Images via lilpoison.com