A dynamic central perf covers a slight narrative and carries shoestring production values in “The Bet Collector,” a low-budget Filipino drama about a slum-dwelling mama working for a numbers racket. While thesp Gina Pareno gives 200% to the titular role, the yarn’s meandering tendencies will erode sympathies well before the tacked-on finale arrives. Pic has won popularity on the fest circuit from New Delhi to Toronto, but odds of securing a wider release are iffy.
Opening with a police raid on a Filipino gang running a numbers racket, pic initially thrills with a multistrand chase through the narrow alleys of a Quezon City slum. Bailed out by her boss, middle-aged bet collector Amelita (Gina Pareno) resumes plying her trade on the streets. A natural-born gossip and saleswoman, Amelita never foregoes a chance to cajole potential customers into placing a wager. Continually on camera, Pareno delivers a compelling perf. However, having quickly established that the protag is on a not-so merry-go-round driven by poverty and police corruption, the undisciplined story squanders the thesp’s gift. Helming has a cinema verite realism, and washed-out lensing enforces the low-budget atmosphere. Tech credits are serviceable.