After overcoming a brief ban by Filipino censors, this 1997 feminist melodrama became a huge hit; in the grand tradition of Hollywood women's pictures it titillates even as it preaches. Joy (Rosanna Roces), a young whore, wants a man who?ll love her for her soul, but she?s thwarted by egotistical johns and self-righteous Christians. Director Carlos Siguion-Reyna, who attended film school in the U.S., has added a glossy patina and a hip sensibility to the Filipino weepie: the whorehouse is a bawdy, colorful playground where feisty hookers outwit their tricks and curse like sailors. He's not above exploiting his women either—Joy and her colleagues are kittens in heat who disrobe regularly and endure one rape after another—but the emotional ups and downs are honest and at times even harrowing.
By Ted Shen