I guess I had nothing better to do and that’s why I decided to watch SRO a few weeks ago at Robinsons Galleria. This gay indie film is about the lives of people—gay or straight, but mostly gay—who engage in the sex trade at a run-down cinema called “Maharlika” in Manila that screens sexy films. The film’s title obviously refers to the phrase “standing room only,” often used in cinemas where all the seats are already taken and so other patrons who want to watch have to stand. The phrase can also refer to the practice of many PLU patrons of old cinemas of standing at the back of the theater to cruise and to get a booking even if there are seats available. But in this particular film, SRO also—in a lame bit of literary trick—stands for the initials of the three main characters: Sonny, Roldan, and Oscar.
I’ve heard and read plenty about the goings-on that occur inside these dilapidated theaters. Probably the most famous haunt of them all is the Alta Theater in Cubao. I personally have never been inside one of them and it’s unlikely that I’ll muster enough courage to see for myself so I guess curiosity made me watch SRO. I wanted to see at least this particular gay subculture shown through a filmmaker’s eyes.
Now that I’ve satiated my curiosity for a bit, let me say that if you haven’t seen SRO, then you’re not missing anything. The movie is just another one of those run-of-the-mill gay indie features that serve nothing to advance the state of the art in gay filmmaking. I really did not see the point of Ana Capri’s histrionics nor find any relevance for the plot twist at the end that just came out of nowhere. Aside from the actor who played Sonny, whom I have found cute, there’s very little else to enjoy. I did not even like Paolo Rivero’s participation in the film (and I generally like his gay film roles).
Sigh. (That’s the sound of gay-indie-film fatigue setting in.)
Read this ClickTheCity review for another scathing perspective.