I saw a hilarious, sweet and a little sad film last night, Passport to Love, aka Chuyện Tình Xa Xứ. The writer and director is a Vietnamese-American named Victor Vu. The film was in Vietnamese with English subtitles, and takes place in the present day Saigon and Southern California.
The central characters are Khang, a spoiled playboy son of a business tycoon, and Hieu, the studious and serious devoted son. Khang and Hieu go to SoCal to study and the experience changes both. Khang falls in love with the sexy Viet-American policewoman when she saves his life, then books him for DUI. His father cuts off his funding and he gets a menial job to support himself and win the policewoman's respect. Khang is hysterical, always mugging for the camera and stealing scenes with his over-the-top shennanigans.
Meanwhile, Hieu pines for the angelic, too-perfect fiancee he left back in Saigon. Things get complicated when he falls for the beautiful daughter of his mother's friend when he is hired to tutor her in Vietnamese. He agonizes -- who to choose?
The film is well done and contains several scenes that had me doubled-over in laughter. One great one is when Hieu and Khang move into a cheap room in a bible-thumper's boarding house and the proprietor is lecturing them on the rules of the house. Fantastic.
I highly recommend this film. Although some characters are a bit underdeveloped, it is thought-provoking in its exploration of the romantic tangles we sometimes find ourselves in, as well as exploring some themes of maintaining ethnic identity in a new country. Vu frames his shots artfully and it's frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Charvey gives two thumbs up!