East Side Story

"Very Good"

East Side Story Review


East Side Story isn't another one of those gay dramedies set in West L.A. It's a gay dramedy set in East L.A., with all of the usual gay ensemble film suspects on hand, albeit in a slightly unusual locale.

The film follows the travails of Diego (René Alvarado), a young, mostly closeted guy who helps his aunt (Irene DiBari) run a family-style Mexican restaurant. He has a hunky boyfriend named Pablo (David Berón) who's a local real estate bigwig, but Pablo is also deeply closeted, and the relationship really can't go anywhere as long as both guys are struggling to keep their secrets.

The return of Diego's man-eating sister Blanca (Gladys Jimenez) from a European liaison throws off the tenuous balance of Diego's life, especially when Pablo dumps him for her, a surprising development to say the least. Diego resists telling Blanca that Pablo is gay because doing so would reveal his secret, too. For his part, Pablo brushes Diego aside and says the gay thing was just a phase. For the vulnerable and insecure Diego, it's quite a blow.

At the same time, a wave of gay gentrification has come to the neighborhood, and the new gay couple down the block, Wesley (Steve Callahan) and Jonathon (Cory Schneider), give Diego something new to think about. Diego is immediately attracted to Wesley, who couldn't be cooler, but provincial Jonathon hates the new neighborhood and all the "cholos" he sees hanging around. For their part, the cholos don't like him all that much either and fear the changes that he represents. Is the Mexican flavor of the 'hood destined to be snuffed out for good?

When Wesley and Jonathon throw a party and invite Diego, his discomfort in a whole room of out and proud gay men is tangible, but Wesley gets what's going on, and soon Diego is in danger of breaking up the happy couple while he simultaneously oversees the decline of his restaurant, which may be pushed out in the next wave of gentrification. The kind of person he hopes to become is precisely the kind of person who may destroy the place he grew up. It's an interesting dilemma.

East Side Story is original in going beyond the typical gay-go-round of so many gay-themed movies and adding some urban planning and sociology to the mix. For a low-budget indie, the production is slick, and the cast is uniformly good, especially Alvarado and Jimenez (as the foul-mouthed man-hungry Blanca, she's quite the card). It's the kind of setup that demands a happy ending, but the way things turn out is not exactly what you'd expect. It's refreshing.

What do you do with a problem like Maria?



East Side Story

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Wednesday 7th June 2006

Distributed by: Wolfe Video

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Carlos Portugal

Producer: Mary Feuer, Carlos Portugal, Charo Toledo, Blanca Valdez

Starring: Luis Accinelli as Don Rogelio, René Alvarado as Diego Campos, as Pablo Morales, Steve Callahan as Wesley Henderson, Michael Cassady as Dennis, Dominic Ceci as Adam, Irene DeBari as Sara Campos, Yelyna De Leon as Tiffany, Carl Donelson as AA Guest #2, Anthony Fitzgerald as Jimmy, Gladys Jimenez as Bianca Campos, Shannon Kemp as Steve, Luis Raul as Salvador, Cory Schneider as Jonathon Webber, Andrea Zafra as Janice Morales

Also starring:

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