East Side Story (2006) Poster

(I) (2006)

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10/10
What a Way to Break Into Film! Great Date Movie!
MattNYC7 June 2006
Very enjoyable, well-acted, well-scripted romantic movie! It's hard to believe this is Mr. Portugal's debut film. It doesn't hurt that the movie is chock-full of really cute actors, with enough shirtless scenes and quick rump shots that titillate. ;)

Great characters--almost all the main characters were fully developed. Unlike many gay films, some female characters were given genuine roles and they soared with them. There was definitely a chemistry between ALL of the actors and the movie flowed very well.

Standout performances by René Alvarado as Diego and Irene DeBarri as his grandmother.

This is the best film I have seen so far this year at New Fest in NYC.
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8/10
A Classy New Coming Out Film with Emphasis on the East LA Community
gradyharp13 December 2007
Fresh young talent and a healthy dollop of enthusiasm serve as the springboard of this well written (Carlos Portugal and Charo Toledo), well directed (Carlos Portugal) and well acted exuberant story of those once perceived tightly closet doors of the East Los Angeles Hispanic community. Not that this is the first film to engage the topic of being gay in East LA - QUINCEAÑERA is another superb film on the subject - but it addresses so many other aspects of family and social life happening now that it deserves a wide audience. With a cast of newcomers coupled with some very fine veterans of the screen EAST SIDE STORY comes to life in a highly entertaining fashion.

Closeted schooled chef Diego Campos (a fine debut by René Alvarado) works as a waiter in his grandmother Sara's (elegant Irene DeBari) little Mexican restaurant where grumpy homophobic chef Don Rogelio (Luis Accinelli) presides in the kitchen. Diego dreams of opening his own restaurant but family ties keep him grounded. Diego's campy Aunt Bianca (Gladise Jimenez) returns from Monaco on one of her many expensive sojourns to find a man and changes begin to happen. Diego's equally closeted boyfriend Pablo Morales (David Berón) has been refusing to settle down in a relationship with Diego, claiming that the union is a 'passing fancy'. When Bianca enters, Pablo's attentions turn to the sexy lady and Diego is brokenhearted.

Into this mélange enters a white gay couple who buy a 'flip' house across the street, a signal to the neighborhood that gentrification is just around the corner. The couple - Wesley (Steve Callahan) and Jonathan (Cory Schneider) - meet the morose Diego and a match strikes between Diego and Wesley. Jonathan is assigned all the lines having to do with prejudice and is the one who wants out of the neighborhood as soon as their house is enhanced and their gay friends begin to visit. The white couple move apart and Wesley and Diego begin a courtship dance that is encouraged by Diego's family. How Diego handles his loss of Pablo to his Aunt Bianca and copes with the possibility of being open with Wesley forms the story line. It is all the hilarious and not so hilarious sidebars that share the space of the 'outing' that make the film so personal and successful.

Carlos Portugal is clearly a talent to watch, as are his attractive and talented cast members. EAST SIDE STORY is a fine companion piece to QUINCEAÑERA and should enjoy the same degree of popularity for all the same reasons! Grady Harp
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6/10
Excellent - Just Not Incredibly So
Franco-LA12 November 2007
This is a very technically well-made film with good pacing and overall good acting, with standout performances from the main females and most of the main male actors. The main problem with the film is the extent to which is borrows from stereotypical sitcom television conventions, down to the nicely packaged happy ending. Boy meets closeted boy, boy dumps closeted boy, boy meets new gay couple on block, one half of the gay couple cheats on partner with boy, purely dramatic devices causes a break-up (which in typical television fashion, the couple didn't actually belong together - not the like the boy and cheating partner do), till finally, again true to TV conventions, all is resolved and happily so, that by the time the end title credits roll, boy ends up with the right half of the couple.

Don't get me wrong, it's a well-made film with some excellent performances. It's definitely a crowd-pleaser and it's sure to be enjoyed by nearly any gay-identified audience member who views it. Apparently, the distributors didn't see any cross-over appeal as the movie seems to be headed to a DVD release without even a cursory theatrical release in some of the major markets where it did not make into (or which do not have) a gay and lesbian film festival.

Definitely worth renting, once the DVD is released, apparently in the next few months, and perhaps even owning. However, comparing this to Brokeback Mountain is definitely not appropriate.
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10/10
Best LGBT-focused story in film we've seen in the past couple of years
bammer4713 June 2007
My partner & I saw "East Side Story" at NYC's NewFest in June 2006.

The movie is a well constructed take-off on the Italian-Puerto Rican ethnic conflict in the musical "West Side Story". Instead of the historical focus on those two ethnic groups in NYC, ESS dramatizes the current fault line between middle class Latino residents in LA's Echo Park neighborhood and well-off gays & lesbians who are buying up their homes, gentrifying their area, and threatening to displace them. The specific characters and basic storyline are believable and the movie entertains you throughout the movie.

Of the 15 or so films we screened at that NYC LGBT festival last year & this month, "East Side Story" was by far our favorite (We also liked "Forgiving the Franklins", "Coffee Date", "Outing Riley" and "Bubble", a gripping but HEAVY film by the Israeli director of "Yossi & Jagger".).

Question: does anyone have an idea of when / if "East Side Story" will appear in (art) theaters OR be released on DVD? We'd really like to see it again and, if possible, purchase a copy.

If not, I'll contact the NewFest organizers to see if they can answer this question.
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9/10
This is a great Sunday evening movie
MarcusLee Mays27 January 2008
I just finished watching this movie and I have to say; I really enjoyed it. The whole cast is great. The acting from the sexy Rene Alvarado who plays Diego Campos to the crazy and lots of drama aunt Bianca Campos played by Gladise Jimernez is simply incredible. Irene De Bari who plays Sara Campos truly plays a latina grandmother. I really admire the way the Director Carlos Portugal has brought together many issues how people in our own latino community feel about outside economic infusion, minorities and gays.

I can only hope that this is not Carlos Portugal last film. I wish him luck in finding new and refreshing material to turn into great movies like this one. I want everyone can see East Side Story. It is a great film.
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8/10
Fun little independent film
preppy-311 May 2007
Diego (Rene Alvaredo) is almost 30, living in east LA with his grandmother (Irene DeBari), helps run a family restaurant, has no friends and has an unhappy relationship with a VERY closeted real estate agent (David Beron). Diego also is in the closet but wants to come out. Then a gay couple move next door--and Diego falls for one of them (Steve Callahan).

This is extremely light and a little lacking in plot--but how many movies to we see about a gay Latino man falling in love and struggling to come out? It's well-directed, moves very quick and has a very good attractive cast. Alvaredo and Callahan are (to put in mildly) very handsome with nice bodies...but they also can act. Also DeBari is excellent as Diego's grandmother--her and Alvaredo play off each other perfectly. Also Gladys Jimenez (as Bianca Campos--an aunt) comes roaring out full force. She has the funniest lines ("A four way is not an orgy!") and plays them full tilt. I also have to admit more than a few moments had my audience choking up--Diego's wanting to come out is sometimes painful to watch and DeBari's total acceptance of him is very moving.

My only complaints are the plot is kind of sketchy, the ending is way too unbelievable (this one pushes for a happy one) and the two main villains in this (Pablo and Wesley's lover Jonathan) are so vicious it gets uncomfortable. And we're supposed to believe a hot young guy like Diego has NO friends??? Still this is fun, light and also includes some very passionate guy on guy kissing. Recommended.
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9/10
A delight
rbrome17 July 2006
This is a wonderfully fun and well-made film. For a low-budget film, this is about as good as it gets. You can tell the people involved are headed for great things. The direction was flawless. The drama was touching and the humor absolutely hilarious; the pace: perfect. The acting: engaging.

While technically a coming-out story, it doesn't feel like one. The story avoids the clichés with a refreshingly modern angle. The over-arching themes are there loud and clear, without overshadowing the personal story of the lead character.

I saw this film at Philly's gay film festival. So many of the other films either have gorgeous eye candy or good acting, not both. That was not the case with this movie. The lead actors are all incredibly hot - and you see plenty of them - yet they were great actors as well. The director was generous with the eye candy without being gratuitous. It seemed directed to appeal to a gay audience, but tastefully, in a way that won't be a turn-off to straight audiences.

Fun. Entertaining. Touching. Hilarious. Highly recommended.
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10/10
Fun Fun Fun
donwc199626 June 2013
This film is a winner from start to finish. It has everything. Great story! Great cast! But more than anything else it grabs you by the heart and never lets go. This story speaks the truth in its every nuance. The people behind this film knew what they were doing and they did not miss a trick. Authentic is the word for this film. Authentic and true. There are simply no clichés, no stereotypes, just real people living out their lives the best way they can. The cast is so perfect it hurts. Yet none of the leads seems to have made it big based on information here at IMDb. What a shame! But, hey, that's life in Hollywood - lots of talented people who never make it. And this cast has talent in spades. This film is a real collector's item, the kind of film you keep among your very favorite films and never forget it. You just want to see it again and again, it is so perfect. A real gem.
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9/10
As gay films go, this one is a winner!
irving-baby23 November 2008
Gay movies very often suffer a lack of funding and subsequent underdevelopment. East Side Story bears no sign of this; the production values are good and the acting is mostly great (the lead actor is particularly good).

Diego is approaching 30, yet his life has consisted of very little outside of working at his family's restaurant in East Los Angeles. After being dumped by his "boyfriend", rather than face the ensuing fall-out over his homosexuality, he resolves to leave LA and make a life for himself in Phoenix. But a brief meeting with his openly gay new neighbours begins opening his mind to the possibilities of life - if he can only have the courage to be who he is.

The blurb for this film claims that it avoids all the clichés, and that is actually true. Just about everything works perfectly in East Side Story, a welcome fact that ensures you concentrate on the emotional journey playing out on the screen. Those who saw "Mambo Italiano" another gay film of high production values (from Canada) may notice some story similarities, but every element is still very valid. Anyone looking for a good gay movie should certainly give East Side Story a go.
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10/10
overall laugh, feel good, dramatic, fun gay flick, even my straight friends loved it!
apena3120 December 2006
I was lucky enough to see this flick at the 2006 Puerto vallarta Film Festival this year. My friends all told me about it from New York to Los Angeles, It had been making the Festival rounds. It's a story of a gay twenty something who has a series of incedents ends up finding himself and maybe someone to share it with. The cast was excellent I especially liked the part played by his Aunt. It was SO good. no Violence, no unnecessary sex (the beginning has a funny sex scene but good) scenes just a well written, good acted gay comedy From beginning to end, The real feel good movie of the year! I can't wait till it's released on DVD
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