Update: I have discovered that this movie is now doing the festival circuit in Europe, and its title in English is "Lost in Paradise." Keep an eye out for it!
Wow - on so many levels. Last night I went to the Megastar cinema at CT Plaza, HCMC, which is conveniently situated right near my place and shows movies late into the night - Saigon is becoming a very civilized place to live.
I went with some friends to see Vietnam's newest and most notorious gay-themed movie Hot Boy Noi Loan. The Megastar cineplex is quite glam - surprisingly so. It is much more comfortable and beautiful than any cinema in Sydney! And the film was really very, very good. Sophisticated, elegant and beautifully shot around Ho Chi Minh City, this is a truly unique Saigon story that deserves to be seen all over the world. It is also a surprise to many Vietnamese who come to see the film, realising for the first time that Ho Chi Minh City possesses a vibrant gay culture.
For me it was the performances that were really outstanding. And I'm not just talking about the beefcake, though there was plenty of that (and Linh Son, troi oi!). But I am noticing a performance culture emerging in Vietnam that is truly impressive - I think some of the best actors in the world are coming out of Vietnam, and directors and writers here are being inspired by this. Most exciting for me was the performance of 90s Vietnamese pop legend Phuong Thanh as a past-it street hooker. This woman is incredible, and totally magnetic - she always was. Her absolute lack of vanity in playing this less than glamorous role speaks to her own professionalism and love of the craft. May she be in many more movies!
Try and see Hot Boy Noi Loan any way you can - it deserves to be a cult hit.
Hot Boy Noi Loan was released in Vietnam on the 14th Oct. 2011
It is released with full English subtitles (which are actually very good). There is no DVD release yet.
The film is directed by Vu Ngoc Dang
Stars: Luong Manh Hai, Ho Vinh Khoa, Phuong Thanh, Hieu Hien, Linh Son and La Quoc Hung.