Service (film)

Directed by Brillante Mendoza
Produced by Ferdinand Lapuz
Screenplay by Armando Lao
Story by Armando Lao
Boots Agbayani Pastor
Starring Gina Pareño
Jaclyn Jose
Julio Diaz
Kristoffer King
Mercedes Cabral
Coco Martin
Music by Gian Gianan
Cinematography Odyssey Flores
Edited by Claire Villa-Real
Distributed by Centerstage Productions
Swift Productions
Release dates
  • 18 May 2008 (2008-05-18) (Cannes)
  • 25 June 2008 (2008-06-25) (Philippines)
Running time
90 minutes
Country Philippines
Language Tagalog
Box office $155,156[1]

Service (Tagalog: Serbis) is a 2008 Filipino independent drama film directed by Brillante Mendoza and stars Gina Pareño as the matriarch of the Pineda family who owns a porn cinema in Angeles City, Pampanga. The film competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It is also the first Filipino film to compete at the main competition in Cannes, since Lino Brocka's Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim in 1984.[2]


Service is a drama that follows the travails of the Pineda family in the Filipino city of Angeles. Bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest and bothersome skin irritations are all part of their daily challenges, but the real "star" of the show is an enormous, dilapidated movie theater that doubles as family business and living space. At one time a prestige establishment, the theater now runs porn double bills and serves as a meeting ground for hustlers of every conceivable persuasion. The film captures the sordid, fetid atmosphere, interweaving various family subplots with the comings and goings of customers, thieves and even a runaway goat while enveloping the viewer in a maelstrom of sound, noise and continuous motion.



Critical response

Service caused a stir in the Philippines with its loud ambient noise and its graphic depiction of sex and nudity. Submitted to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board for public exhibition in 2008, the movie survived with two major cuts to sex scenes and was rated an R18.

Such was the advance international buzz of the film that it was invited to compete at the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival, being the 3rd overall entry from the Philippines (following the films of director Lino Brocka, Jaguar and Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim). Its premiere at the festival was marked by the walking out of several veteran film critics who protested Mendoza's version of "misery porn."

On 30 January 2009, the film premiered in New York. Writing for the New York Times, its chief film critic Manohla Dargis described the film: "The heavenly bodies that populate our films bring their own pleasures ... alighting onscreen as if from a dream. But the bodies in [‘Serbis’], which received little love at the 2008 Cannes, are not heaven-sent, but neither are they puppets in a contrived nightmare. Rather, they lust, sweat, desire and struggle with the ferocious truth." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Service two and a half out of four stars, stating that "[i]f you see only one art film this month, this shouldn't be the one. If you see one every week, you might admire it."[3]


Year Event Category Recipient Result
2008 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Serbis Nominated
2009 Asian Film Awards Best Director Brillante Mendoza Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Gina Pareño Won
Jaclyn Jose Nominated
Gawad Urian Awards Best Picture Serbis Won
Best Director Brillante Mendoza Won
Best Actress Gina Pareño Nominated
Jaclyn Jose Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Julio Diaz Nominated
Best Screenplay Armando Lao
Boots Agbayani Pastor
Best Cinematography Odyssey Flores Won
Best Editing Claire Villa-Real Nominated
Best Production Design Benjamin Padero
Carlo Tabije
Best Sound Emmanuel Clemente Nominated
2011 Gawad Urian Awards Best Film of the Decade (2000-2009) Serbis Won


  1. "Serbis". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  2. "'Serbis' Vying for the Palme d'Or in Cannes". Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  3. Ebert, Roger (18 March 2009). "Serbis Movie Review & Film Summary". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
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