The Tourist’s Guide to Love Review: Rachael Leigh Cook Rom-Com

Scott Ly debuts as an adorable tour guide in this sweet wanderlust rom-com that surprisingly forges its own path.

Rachael Leigh Cook Ready all of it: she was a teen star in an iconic high school comedy (“She’s All That”), moved on to sponsored films (“Spirit Halloween”) and jumped into Hallmark’s Christmas Queen (“Tis the Season to Be”). Hilarious”). Now he’s deftly parlayed all his female crushes into a sweet Netflix movie called A Tourist’s Guide for Love.

Yes, “Made-for-Netflix” is a category of its own. While “The Irishman” is considered a Netflix original, “Made-for-Netflix” separates blockbusters like the near-perfect “Falling for Christmas” and the soothing background noise of “Murder Mystery 2” from the real Oscars. competitors. It’s a sliding scale of quality below the streaming titan’s content, and Cook’s latest film, “A Tourist’s Guide to Love,” feels like an adaptation of a sweet viral BookTok romance novel — in the best possible way.

Cook stars as Amanda, a tightly wound career woman from Los Angeles who is sent to Vietnam to find out if it’s worth buying out the tour company she hires. Before jetting off to her dream vacation, Amanda receives some unpleasant news: her predictable and practical boyfriend (Ben Feldman) is putting their relationship on “break” while he moves to Ohio. Worse? He doesn’t pop the question as Amanda expected in her planned perfect scenario.

Follow the steamy Vietnamese tour guide Sinh (Scott Ly) and soon Amanda’s rigid rule-following goes right out the window, as does her neatly packed luggage that goes missing at the airport. And while that sounds predictable, the rest of the film’s pace takes its own course. “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” could have easily opted for an Americanized, voyeuristic quality when it comes to Vietnam’s lushness, or even exoticized Sinh’s character as a local lust who craves Amanda’s sensibilities while teaching her own to loosen up.

Fortunately, “The Tourist’s Guide to Love” is smarter—and more tasteful—than that.

Amanda does a bit of “Eat, Pray, Love” on her trip – already doomed by the delusional reason for a vacation, which could involve buying out Sinh’s family business – but it’s more Sinh’s excitement and passion for Vietnamese culture. it grounds the film, not just the budding romance of the characters. “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is an itinerary for falling in love with foreign adventures, accompanied by Vietnamese trivia and spiritual facts.

A tourist guide to love.  (L-R) Scott Ly as Sinh and Rachael Leigh Cook as Amanda in A Tourist's Guide to Love.  BC Sasidis Sasisakulporn/Netflix © 2022

“A Tourist’s Guide to Love”

Sasidis Sasisakulporn/Netflix

Director Steven K. Tsuchida (“Younger,” “Cobra Kai”) is making his Netflix film debut, and he doesn’t shy away from filming Vietnam’s rich cuisine like a CNN travel show based on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.” cites. ” Rom-com touchstones are interwoven with cultural traditions; a night market scene adorably features Sinh teaching Amanda how to haggle properly while slyly imparting wisdom, such as if the seller won’t lower the price, buying a symbolic phoenix rising scarf was not.

Sure, there’s an eye-roll here and there—the traffic tip for across the street, without a crosswalk, is “always go forward, never back”—but Sinh’s lightheartedness translates beautifully, prompting Amanda to learn life lessons in local ways. As Sinh cautions, their journey and impending romance isn’t a list of tourist attractions or relationship milestones to check off; rather, let the spontaneity of a life-changing adventure come naturally.

The third-act love triangle throws a real wrench in the traveling romance, and Amanda realizes she’s too comfortable and therefore too complacent in her “little corner of the world.” It’s a rom-com, albeit “made for Netflix,” but it has an important message that more streamers need to hear.

Eirene Tran Donohue wrote the screenplay, Cook produced the film, and Joel S. Rice at Muse Entertainment. “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is the first American film shot almost entirely in Vietnam and the first international production to shoot in Vietnam since the global pandemic. The winning production will serve as the location for more films in Vietnam, hopefully opening up Netflix’s international production presence just as Cook’s rom-com roots extend far beyond the Hallmark Channel to more unknown roles (and parts!).

Rating: B-

“A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is now streaming on Netflix.

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