“Beef, Cupcake & Him” Movie Review

This short movie is simply astonishing. It starts out as another gourmet themed BL series which seems to be the latest trend in Boys’ Love as opposed to college settings. The story line is not necessarily unique but because of great character development, excellent acting, and an immersed story, this movie has become an early favorite of mine in 2022.

It is a very endearing story about a brother and sister. The brother Thien Hy (Gia Huy) is a professional chef at a Western restaurant. Because of the pandemic, he has been furloughed. The sister, Ngan (Trunh Tu Trung) is attending college and Thien is helping her get through college. Because of Covid, their lives have been disrupted but now it seems to be getting back on track. As a source of making extra money, they bake cakes at home to sell. One day, their hometown neighbor comes to stay with them. His name is Chien Thang, played by Hoang Duy. The relationship between Thang and Hy as children was not good; since Thang used to bully and pick on Hy. Thang is also looking for a job. Unbeknownst, Hy was terminated from his employment because his manager became jealous and threatened by Hy’s ability to cook and create better recipes than him.

Unemployed and now having to fend for themselves, the three embark on a new venture backing and selling cakes online with significant success. So much so that they become a real rival to where Hy’s previous workplace. In their need of becoming a functional working unit, Hy and Thang become close and realize that what they did to each other as children was a poor and inept way of showing their affections. As they get to spend more time together, they become closer, and slowly realize that they like each other more than just mere friends.

Thang’s mother comes to visit in the hopes of convincing him to come back home to stay with her. Unfortunately, she inadvertently sees and hears the two of them exchanging more than pleasantries in the bedroom. The manager of the restaurant succeeds in contacting her and proposes that if she gets the recipes from her son that was given to him by Hy, he will pay her handsomely. Obviously, she does this; primarily for the money, but also as a way to create a wedge between her son and Hy. As a result of this deception, the manager proclaims Hy’s recipes as his own; before Hy and Thang have an opportunity to do so. Thang is outraged that his mother would do such a thing and Hy is left despondent that such trickery and back-stabbing would occur from a family friend and neighbor. Fortunately, Thang executes a plan to thwart the manager of the restaurant and exposes him for who and what he really is.

Describing the story like this sounds quite ordinary. Perhaps so. But this short movie shows how you can take an ordinary story and turn it into something extraordinary. Its execution is a real work of art. The acting is just superb. They took this mundane story and made it their own. They did so by sheer force of character. They gave these character’s life! They made them real, genuine, and honest. They made their love for each other soft, yet intensely sincere. This is a beautifully somber love story that seems to develop so naturally and sincerely that you hardly notice it evolving. They are not afraid to show their love for each other, but it is subtle; just as normal couples do. Having resolved their childhood bitterness helps them to put things in perspective and to see each other, for all intense and purpose, as soulmates. When the issue with the manager is finally resolved, Thang comes back, stands in the kitchen and says, “I’m home”. What better way to show their deep connection to each other?

Huong Duy and Gia Huy are quite handsome and honestly it is difficult to not want their characters to be together. But more importantly, is that they have an astonishingly quiet connection to each other that is rarely seen. Neither outshines the other and subsequently they both shine. Their chemistry together is exceptional. Although there are not a lot of emotions here, there is an intensity that is to be felt by the way they glowed when they were together. I hate to say that it was magical, because that implies something shocking happens. But it does not. It is just that they have an inherent talent of showing connection that is rarely seen in BLs. They know they are playing parts where two guys are falling in love with each other, and they are not fearful or anxious about it. That knowledge brings a new dimension to connection that the audience not only sees but also feels. These two actors are very powerful in their performances in the most subtle and quiet ways.

We also need to talk about the music. Normally, I do not pay much attention to the background music, which is often registered by me as noise. Sometimes, if it is during emotional scenes, I notice it; especially when it heightens the emotional overtones of the scene. But, for reasons I still am not entirely sure about, their background music for “Away in the Manger” played beautifully on the harp. I was thunderstruck! I could not figure out why that particular song was chosen, but it worked. I found it felicitous even if it seems a bit incongruous with the surroundings. Keep this up! I love the surprises and uniqueness that this short gem has brought forth!

To say that I liked this movie is not quite accurate. It made me feel good about living and also made me feel good about being gay. They developed a gay relationship into a shining, beautiful celebration of life.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

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