East Side Story (2006) Poster

(I) (2006)

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Finally a Gay Feel Good Movie
heyjay408 June 2006
I saw this last night at the NewFest GLBT Film Festival and LOVED it! If this is a first time effort, we can expect wonderful and great films to come. Everything about this is appealing! Cast, plot, writing, directing, music, sets, costumes, but most of all - heart! There is so much love and care and hope and dreams fulfilled alive on the screen. If Sandra Bullock were a gay man this would be her film. I laughed, feared, hoped and smiled so much. For me, this was the type of film "Brokeback Mountain" could have been. I think this should be required viewing for every person who has felt bias and hatred toward another minority. What we don't understand we fear and what we fear we try to destroy. I hope every person involved in this film continues to share their gifts with us. I hope this film finds the right distributors to get out there and let the world see what can only be described as a true gem of a film. Watch out world, these talented people are on their way! Kudos to all!
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Loved it...a "Must See"...
filmsdie44 February 2007
I saw this movie at the 2007 Palm Springs International Film Festival and absolutely loved it!!! East Side Story traces the transition of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in East LA. Handsome young Diego is ready to take the next step with his career and his Latino (but closeted) boyfriend, Pablo. Obviously, there are many challenges facing Diego including his sexy new Anglo neighbor (who happens to have a "live in" boyfriend), his love- starved Aunt Bianca, and an intolerant Latino neighborhood.

Cudos to Carlos Portugal on his directorial debut. East Side Story definitely has something to say with a fantastic infusion of humor and poignancy. The characters are well defined and relatable, and the story is very well paced. I haven't laughed this hard since seeing "There's Something about Mary." Bottom line - the actors are hot, the story is compelling, and the music is fabulous. If East Side Story is any indication of Mr. Portugal's talent, I can't wait to see more from this truly gifted director!
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very good
Paul Creeden25 August 2008
I am not a fan of the 'new gay' cinema, dominated by West Hollywood materialism and blonde stupidity. So, I was delighted to see this film, which did not disappoint from start to ending. I was impressed by it.

I am 58 and grew up in a town which was 90% European-American in the 50s and 60s when I was a kid. That town is now about 75% Hispanic-American and Hispanic immigrant. And it is also being gentrified slowly by urban refugees, many gay, who are attracted to its proximity to Boston. So, I am quite familiar with the issues represented in this movie. I also happen to be gay.

The core conflict of family vs. individuality as experienced by Diego was my core conflict when growing out of an ethnic proletarian family. His grandmother was more supportive than most elders in these situations. His aunt's schizo attitude toward gay men and Diego is also typical of people in these communities, who are torn between traditional brainwashing by churches and neighbors and love of their own children as individuals with their own lives to live.

Dennis' alcoholism and codependent relationship with Jonathan are all too common gay phenomena. I particularly enjoyed the local AA guys who show up for the new gay AA meeting. They rang true. The reality base of the film is its most impressive feature. The relatively good production values are also impressive, since I am sure the budget was limited. Talent is the explanation.

I hope the Portugal-Toledo team continue to work together. And I highly recommend that you see this on DVD.
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A highly clichéd comedy
Gordon-1114 October 2016
This film tells the story of a man who works in his family owned Mexican restaurant, and has a closeted boyfriend. He wants to move away and break free, but his next door neighbour developed an instant crush for him.

I can't quite believe how clichéd the story and the characters are in this film. Everything is rather dramatised for comedic effect. I do like the very dramatic aunt Bianca, who provides much comedic moments. The main character, Pablo, is an amiable person, and I feel a bit sorry for him and his restaurant. Take the film lightly, and you'll find it funny and amusing for a rainy evening.
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Strictly Mid-Pack!
James13 December 2007
With the high score here on IMDb, I was expecting far more than this film delivered. East Side Story is technically fine with respectable acting, yet the plot was just so much frothy fluff with nothing to bite into. There's no tension or drama, and not enough laughs to be a comedy either.

There are dozens of gay-themed films available that have a sharper edge and allow the viewer to actually feel something instead of watching a few gay men in a cheesy, predictable, plain-vanilla sitcom. Admittedly, many of the best movies are foreign -- which is fine by me. If you haven't already, view the many titles from Latin America, Europe and Asia for a sharper taste and story lines you won't find from US studios. Can't honestly give ESS any more than 4 stars out of 10.
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Muscular, unhappy gay men in and out of the closet...
moonspinner558 July 2008
Nobody lifts any weights or does a single stomach crunch in this movie, though it's important to note that all the gay male characters have muscular arms and flat stomachs with six-packs. This low-budget film doesn't exist to enlighten or involve viewers--it just wants us to ogle the men as fantasy objects (even the proverbial bitchy queen looks like a steroids-addict). Diaphanous script, co-written by director Carlos Portugal, involves René Alvarado as a waiter in East Los Angeles who always looks on the verge of crying; he's impatient with his secret lover over their closeted relationship without really noticing that he himself isn't 'out' to his family (he seems to have no friends). Just after the affair goes bust, Alvarado meets the new neighbors across the street: a flaming, nagging femme and his partner, a sensitive, quiet butch with abs like granite. In what neighborhood did Portugal come from that he thinks this scenario resembles anything intelligent gay audiences can relate to? A little of the dialogue is sharp and funny (most of which belongs to the female characters), and there's a hammy but rude, snorting scene of satire involving participants of an AA meeting. Otherwise, the picture is a little patronizing to its core audience as it prolongs the see-through melodrama to an excruciating length just to get the waiter and the neighbor out of their shirts. I'm assuming they hit the gym afterwards. *1/2 from ****
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Weak script
A B18 August 2012
To be clear, this has nothing to do with West Side Story or Romeo and Juliet besides generic romance. That's not necessarily bad but I was mislead by the title--I was hoping for a gay(er?) version of the movie West Side Story but didn't get it.

If you don't usually care about clichés or the finer points of plots (which is fine, to each their own) and are also interested enough already to read this review, I imagine you'll enjoy this movie; you probably don't have to read further.

That said, I'll start with the good: the main character was relatively complex and interesting; I liked the main couple and was really rooting for them by the end; the grandmother was well-acted and has some nice lines; Wes has amazing pecs and abs.

Now the bad. Lots of clichés like an ultra homophobic old guy, a super close gay son/mother figure relationship, gaggles of really effeminate gay guys being cliché factories, ex-gay guys hooking up with each other, and various stock religious anti-gay lines. A lot of the plot doesn't make much sense if you think about it: Wes and his partner aren't remotely compatible so why were they together that long (answer: the screenwriter needed quickly resolvable conflict); the grandmother is ridiculously accepting so why wasn't the main guy at least out to her (more easy dramatic tension); the "angry mob" bit seemed to get forgotten by the end which passed up an opportunity to actually explore the interesting issue of anti-gay violence; etc. The Hispanic backdrop was somewhat intriguing but it wasn't used very deeply. The whole thing could have been made for instance Jewish with only superficial changes (different restaurant food, actor ethnicity, etc.). All of this combined to give me the impression that the screenwriter was just not that good.

This being a gay movie, I'll discuss "skin". For me there wasn't nearly enough to make up for the flaws. I think there were three brief butt shots, maybe three shirtless scenes (though one with a few good shots of Wes' nice torso), one brief (gay) love scene filmed at a distance, and a lot of clothing the rest of the time. I got the feeling the director wanted everything to be pretty chaste except for the butt shots, which were short to fleeting anyway. I could have used another love scene at the end and lots more gratuitous skin throughout, especially considering the weakness of the script.

Overall, I found it decent for a gay movie and not particularly good for movies overall. (My rating is overall; it's maybe a 6 on the gay- only scale.)
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East Vs West or.. Bigots VS Humans
thesar-220 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Ah, to remember the past. Sure, I realize East Side Story came out (on DVD) in 2007, and probably made way before that, but it was surely stuck in the early 1990s. The themes: coming out, closeted individuals, family acceptance of homosexuality, stereotypes and racism is sooo 1992. And you know what? It was refreshing.

It was a nice and warm reminder to days past. And this low-budget, independent gay-themed movie was actually well made (filmed) and held enough interest to watch to the end. Sure, it had a familiar plot, enormously stereotypical characters and predictable outcomes, but, strangely, enjoyable.

The movie begins with two closeted characters, Diego (enormously hot, but unfortunately straight, Rene Alvarado) and confused real estate agent, Pablo (David Beron) roll-playing sexual encounters. It's obviously doomed, and Diego has to learn to live on his own.

His parents passed on and he lives and works with his grandmother at an apparently authentic Mexican food restaurant in a very depressing, racist and homophobic neighborhood. Diego wants out and over to Phoenix. (Side Note: I wished he had at least visited the Valley of the Sun, as I am currently living there. So few films are shown here.) He meets the new neighbors and it's predictable that he falls for attached Wesley (Steve Callahan.) It takes awhile, but you know what's coming.

The movie is hard to watch, for some of the racist jokes/statements and throws you a curveball for being a "light romantic comedy" and then shows scenes of explicit sexual encounters or nudity (just backsides and bare chests,) even though the movie begins with a dark-shot blow-job, most of the movie could've been shown edited on LOGO.

A friend had been recommending East Side Story to me for a long while, so I finally got around to seeing it. I'm glad I did. It's not groundbreaking, but had some decent acting (though I never truly believed Diego was an educated chef, despite them "telling" us he was,) very funny dialogue (at times,) good eye-candy and a touching throwback to the early 1990s gay-themed film-making. It's harmless fun, if you can understand where the characters are coming from and know soap operas aren't necessarily reserved for heterosexuals.
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lostmytomatoes18 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
aaahahahhhahahaa!! WTF?! why has NO one mentioned the *ucked up ending eh? i mean really the movie was decent, kept my interest at least though definitely cliché. but the end images? the last line being 'we will just have to see' the cut to a bunch of images of other latino folks doing the stereotyped Mexican-American jobs. it seems to convey that since he is gay (and finally was pushed into confronting it with his family) that he is special, talented, gifted, able to step out of the tight fitting molds which our culture like to put on Mexican-Americans. i am not running my mouth about any crap, no dissing or dismissing on queerfolk. it seemed to suggest that because he was gay it made him better able to step out of his racial role and be a 'success', while the rest of the la mexicans don't have what it takes. just seemed damned separatist to me. got a different view of the last 30 seconds? do tell.
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Cute Movie ... If A Bit Uneven
rjnilmandir31 August 2013
East Side Love Story is about Diego Campos and his quest to get out of East L.A. and become a chef in his own restaurant. Along the way he finds that sometimes to get away from home, you just need to stay where you are.

First off, the good parts. I liked the acting and the set design. The restaurant in particular reminded me of some of the places I grew up eating in. To me, that's a bonus.

The acting, while heavy handed at times, didn't seem devoid of heart. René Alvarado (Diego) seemed to finally find his voice near the end of the movie. The rest of the cast were fun, if stereotypical, parts. Pablo, the closeted boyfriend. Wesley, the new neighbor with a problem. Bianca, the crazy aunt (or sister, depending on the writer). The understanding and wise maternal figure, Sara. All played to the fullest and farthest the actor could go.

The bad parts: The acting, while good, was deeply uneven. Most of the actors tended to "sell to the cheap seats" instead of going for smaller actions.

The writing was manic and led to uneven pacing. The whole back and forth between two characters, while building drama, was kind of tedious.

The cinematography. Again, while not terrible, shots seemed to go for more group shots than anything else. Reactions were off camera. In particular a scene between Diego and Westley left all of Diego's dialog being delivered while the back of his head was to camera.

The worst offence is the lighting. Maybe it was the copy I watched, but I couldn't see what the hell was going on some of the time. It honest to god looked like it was being lit by a flashlight ... with a dying battery.

All in all though, I would watch it again. Though, not without a glass of wine first.
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Not bad for a first film
Havan_IronOak30 May 2012
A young gay Latino who is a talented chef works in his family's Mexican restaurant. While he lives with an understanding grandmother, he's not out to her or anyone else and he's dating a man who's not even out to himself. When a hunky/cute gay guy moves in across the street with his clingy ex-trailer park boyfriend our young chef wants to explore some new appetites.

While, this film has a few very attractive actors and a reasonably good script explores some new territory but it had a number of amateurish moments that caused the viewer to lose that willing suspension of disbelief so necessary to really get into a film.

Because the awkward moments are NOT overshadowed/made up for by the poignant moments this will never make it to my watch over and over queue.

I'm a big supporter of gay cinema and I suggest that everyone see this one at least once but be forewarned, it's not top tier quality.
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