HCM CITY (VNS) — For their romantic comedy hit Yeu (Love), the film studio Early Rises Media Group decided to invite young actors with millions of Facebook followers to play the leading roles in hopes of attracting high profits.
The film stars actress Chi Pu, 23, and tomboy singer Gil Le, 24, who have worked as hosts on TV channels aimed at teenagers. But they have had little acting experience.
Producers believe they bring a breath of fresh air and help lure audiences, particularly teenagers, to the cinema.
Directed by experienced choreographer Viet Max, Yeu features Nhi (played by Chi Pu), a vocalist in a famous girl band who falls in love with a rich, handsome man.
When she and her childhood girlfriend, Tu (played by Gil Le), meet again, the girls soon discover feelings that they did not know they had. They must decide if their feelings for one another are as friends, or perhaps something more.
Viet Max said at the film premiere in HCM City last week, that although the cast is young and inexperienced, they showed “professional acting skills and attitude during filmmaking”.
The film has been praised both by the media and the public for its plot and the actors’ performances.
“The story is thrilling and moving. I burst into tears,” said Nguyen Minh Anh, a movie fan who won a ticket to the film premiere through a game on Yeu’s Facebook page.
“I’m also surprised at the performances of the cast, especially Chi Pu and Gil Le. Both of them were so good. They revealed the characters’ feelings and inner conflicts,” she added.
When the film project was announced in May, many people and media expressed doubts about the acting skills of Chi Pu and Gil Le.
But the two amateurs let their acting do the talking, and proved they were adept at portraying such characters.
“The character inspired me to act well,” said Chi Pu, who is based in Ha Noi, and whose real name is Nguyen Thuy Chi.
Chi Pu became popular among the teenage community after she was named “hot girl” in a beauty contest for teenagers in 2009. Since then, she has worked as a model for teenage magazines.
At 20, she discovered her passion for filmmaking and decided to move to HCM City to pursue her dream. She won minor roles in director Nguyen Quang Huy’s Than Tuong (Idol) in 2013 and in Vietnamese-American director Cuong Ngo’s Huong Ga (Rise) in 2014.
Early this year, she was invited to play a leading role, a young woman who faces challenges in the pursuit of happiness, in HCM City Film Studio’s (TFS) 30-part TV series Van Co Em Ben Doi (Having You by My Side) directed by Vo Viet Hung.
Hung said of the actress: “People think she is just a ‘hot girl’ but she actually has talent.”
Chi Pu, who has more than 6 million followers on her Facebook page, wants to prove that she is more than a pretty face.
For Gil Le, Chi Pu’s best friend and fellow thespian, Yeu was her first step into the film industry.
“Having a tomboy look and style, the role of Tu seemed to fit Gil Le,” said director Viet Max.
Gil Le, who was born Le Thanh Truc, said she and her character share similar characteristics that “helped me complete my role”.
In 2011, she rose to fame after joining the girl band X5 under instruction of composer Duong Khac Linh.
“My friendship with Chi Pu and my passion for film motivates me to do well,” she said.
Gil Le is now working as a solo hip hop singer as well as MC for teenage TV channels like YanTV. She left the girl band in 2013.
She has more than 378,000 followers on her Facebook page.
“After Yeu premiered, I received both criticism and acclaim, but this just motivates me to learn and improve my acting skills,” she said.
Since November 23, three days after the film began screening to the public, Yeu has earned nearly VND12 billion (US$545,000), an impressive figure for a film featuring amateur actors.
“Our trust has been repaid. The film is a success,” said a representative of the Early Rises Media Group. — VNS
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