By Jeff Walsh
"Serbis" is not a gay movie. We should get that out of the way up front. This movie from the Philippines mainly concerns a family struggling to make ends meet in a run-down movie theater.
The Pineda family have court cases, pregnancies, and other family issues going on. All of the struggles they are going through doesn't leave them much time to deal with the fact that their "adult only" movie theater isn't attended for the movies they show, but is actually a meeting place for male prostitutes (serbis) and their gay clients.
I thought the movie was well done, but a bunch of interlaced stories stretched across 85 minutes doesn't leave much time to get too invested in any one story. I'd almost have preferred one family story and more investment, but as with any movie from another country, it's always interesting just seeing how people live their daily lives elsewhere.
So, you may definitely see references to the gay backdrop in "Serbis," but that element of the story isn't really the point of the movie. If you go there expecting a lot of that, you won't be very happy. If you want to see a Filipino movie that played Cannes and other major film festivals, that is all about struggle and family life, you're much better off.
You can find out if and when Serbis is coming near you at the official movie website: http://www.serbis-themovie.com/
It opens in New York and San Francisco this weekend.