The Garden Grove premiere of director Charlie Nguyen’s latest film Ðể Mai Tính (translated to lớn Fool for Love for the U.S. Release) drew a respectable Friday night crowd from the Vietnamese community. The theater filled with couples and families—from young to old, speaking Vietnamese, English, & something a little in between—all there to lớn see Việt Nam’s biggest box office hit of the summer.

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A thắm thiết comedy, Ðể Mai Tính follows Dung, played by Dustin Trí Nguyen (known best for his role as H.T. Loki on 21 Jumpstreet, which made girls like me swoon in the late ‘80s) in his pursuit of Mai (Kathy Uyên), an aspiring singer-songwriter. In line with the traditional storyline of a boy in love with a girl out of his league, Dung’s romantic persistence compels him to lớn follow Mai from tp sài thành to Nha Trang. There, under the employ of the flamboyantly homosexual cosmetics entrepreneur Hoi (played with unceasing comedic energy by Thái Hòa), Dung attempts khổng lồ woo Mai against the backdrop of one of Việt Nam’s most beautiful coastal cities.

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The most refreshing aspect of the film is that it is a romance not mired in war. The majority of American films about nước ta or Vietnamese films distributed in the U.S. Are dominated by this tragic history, so as a lãng mạn comedy Ðể Mai Tính is implicitly an opportunity for American audiences to lớn update & readjust their perceptions of Vietnamese. In contemporary settings và style, this film showcases the Vietnamese humor, sexuality, and beauty (of both the people and the country—the đô thị lights, the beaches, and the buzzingly, intimately crowded streets) all too often lost on American movies screens. Aside from keeping the audience laughing consistently throughout (yet also, at the appropriate moments, silently holding their collective breath in the anticipation of romantic embrace), Ðể Mai Tính depicts Vietnamese men, both heterosexual và homosexual, and women as layered characters rather than the stereotypes Asians are often reduced to lớn in mainstream film; while there is certainly a suitor you root for, there are no one-dimensional martial artists or harmlessly docile, impotent “model minorities” here. (The film’s treatment of gender is noteworthy. While Hoi’s character no doubt falls back upon stereotypical conventions of the homosexual and cross-dresser as comic relief for the bulk of the movie, he does reveal more complex character traits as the story progresses, & the film’s other gay male characters range from flirtatious to brooding. One couple announces plans for a Parisian nuptial, và it is the comfort with which homosexuality is treated in these details of the story that is important not only for films in the Vietnamese community, but cinema in general.)

Simply put, my overall experience was that Ðể Mai Tính is a good time at the movies. It offers the conventions of summer entertainment—a oto chase, a musical montage, và a handful of good old-fashioned penis jokes—but, more importantly than those suggestively placed sausages and loaves of French bread (yes, yes, I know, how could there be something more important?), the film allowed me khổng lồ experience a welcomed sense of relief that positive movies can be made about và in Việt Nam. I experienced laughter until my cheeks were sore, an uplifting message about love và companionship, and a swelling pride for the art that Vietnamese-Americans are creating. The rest of the audience shared this gratitude too, as after the film they voiced praise, asked for autographs, và took pictures during the question & answer period with director Charlie Nguyen và actress Kathy Uyên, pictured below with two Ðể Mai Tính fans (whom I had never met before, by the way) apparently excited at the prospect of appearing on diacritics.org.

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That said, though Ðể Mai Tính can absolutely be enjoyed as a simple straightforward romantic comedy, it is not without its commentary on topical issues specific to vn and its people, whether in the country or abroad. First and foremost, the film addresses the growing hotel industry & culture in Việt Nam. Dung’s character is one of many Vietnamese working in a foreign-owned khách sạn and struggles to afford a drink besides water, let alone tóm tắt equal footing, with Hoi & Mai who have accessed wealth only by going abroad for business and romance, respectively. Dung is subject khổng lồ jobs of servitude and, even after cultivating a friendship with his quái nhân Hoi, admits that he still feels like “a pet.” Mai, too, struggles to lớn resist the pressure to marry a rich, globe-trotting man as her only way lớn escape her impoverished past, saying at one point that “Love is not everything.” A current issue evolving with the increase of foreign-owned business and hotels along Việt Nam’s coastline, this underlying tension between working & owning classes, as well as between foreign và domestic, is captured by the film not only in the conflicts between and development of characters, but also in the choice of locations and the inclusion of iconic material desires—a cherry red BMW 6 series & a diamond-encrusted Rolex watch, for instance—upon which some of the story’s key plot points hinge.

This push and pull between nước ta and the rest of the world is also tied to the film’s depiction of language issues. In a more humorous scene early in the film, one of Dung’s coworkers coaches him on how to lớn pronounce “Courvoisier” so as not to accidentally say “limp penis” in Vietnamese when offering the cognac khổng lồ customers at the khách sạn bar. More seriously, considering the cultural losses that have và could potentially result from globalization, Mai reflects on her difficulty of having to relearn Vietnamese like a child after returning from Germany, which only further reinforces her alienation in Việt Nam. This seems to echo Mai’s disputes over whether or not she should sing covers of famous Vietnamese songs or an original one, whose lyrics she penned, lớn win the favor of a record executive, as this conflict is a more artistic manifestation of expressing herself in a language all her own. Though not in the foreground of the film, these are linguistic struggles with which many diasporic Vietnamese can identify, along with any other individuals who have felt removed from the cultures of their homelands.

This is, perhaps, why the shot that closes the film resonates. In hopes of not giving too much about the plot away so that you can all enjoy it for yourselves, I will say that Dung rides his motorbike back to lớn the streets of thành phố sài thành , and, just before the credits began khổng lồ roll, this image delivers to lớn me an undeniable feeling—the anticipation, the comfort, of returning home.