By Randal C. Hill
Actress Rachael Lee Cook is candid about what drew her to her movie character in “A Tourist’s Guide to Love,” a new Netflix romcom. “I have experienced too many breakups in my own life. The idea of restarting your life is a topic that all too many of us are forced to reckon with.”
Cook is Amanda Riley, a travel executive on the receiving end of an unexpected breakup. To rid herself of her angst she travels undercover on a group tour to learn about the booming tourist industry in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, Amanda meets the charismatic, freewheeling tour guide Sinh, portrayed by Scott Ly (“Criminal Minds,” “FBI’s Most Wanted”). Sinh shows Amanda and her fellow travelers that adventure – and love—can be found if one is willing to veer off the beaten path.
Amanda arrives just in time for Tet, the Lunar New Year celebration. Weaving the holiday into the plot was a way for Vietnamese-American screenwriter Eirene Tran Donohue (“Girls’ Night Out”) to highlight some of her traditions. “Tet focuses on new beginnings,” Donohue explains. “Releasing the past year and stepping into a new one. Opening yourself up to opportunity. Creating the life that you were meant to live.”
Ly was working as a personal trainer when he got the call to read opposite Cook and said yes without a second thought. “She’s the wave, I’m the surfer, and I let her kind of take me on the ride,” he said.
“A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is the first Netflix film shot entirely on location in Vietnam. “It’s insanely beautiful, and the landscape is so incredibly diverse,” says Cook.
Donohue digs a bit deeper. “There are almost no American movies set in Vietnam that aren’t about the trauma of war,” she says. “It was really important to tell a story about life there now, full of joy and love and celebration. I wanted to change the conversation about Vietnam, to highlight it as a modern, thriving country whose stories are worthy of being told.”
The movie premieres April 27.