American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Although "Serbis" spends a great deal of time following its characters through the corridors and up and down the stairs of a shabby Filipino porno movie theater, we never get a clear idea of the interior layout. And the auditorium looks rather small, considering the theater's hulking exterior. But maybe that's the idea, because the film is a labyrinth of lost and wandering lives.
An extended family runs this failing old theater, lives in it, too, and is even bringing up a cute little son. The movies on the screen are hetero, but nobody is watching. The dark seats and the bright corridors and staircases are home to gay hustlers and their clientele, everybody knows it, nobody cares, many of them seem to be waiting around for something to relieve their boredom. There is some gratitude when a goat gets loose inside the theater. How it climbed so high without being seen on the stairs is a good question; maybe it's a mountain goat.
Up and down the staff and customers go, like ants in a hill. We get to know the members of the Pineda family of Angeles City pretty well, especially Nayda (Jaclyn Jose), the daughter, whose son is the little boy, and whose mother, Nanay Flor (Gina Pareno), is due in court for her husband's divorce hearing. A strong matriarch, she fiercely wants to be rid of the man.
And there is another worry: Merly (Mercedes Cabral), girlfriend of the cousin/projectionist Alan (Coco Martin), has announced she is pregnant, so there will be the expense of a wedding no one wants.