Sometimes brilliance comes along and hits you, not with its might, but with an emotional sword aimed right at your heart and your soul. This is that kind of series.
I grew dismayed and disheartened by the prose failings, that I cannot generate with my reviews a greater delectation of the cogency of Vietnamese BLs. They are the ones with the most evocative, touching, relatable, and endearing human stories being told simply with complete conviction and focus. It is not Thailand, not South Korea, or Japan. Sure, these countries, along with others, release quality programs with high-cost production sets, but NONE gets to be the heart or soul of the human story of life quite like Vietnam does. Are they all hits? Certainly not, but every one of them has a sincerity, a depth to human drama, and a connection to real life that is rarely seen in BL dramas from other countries (with few exceptions, of course). Their stories are relatable because of their effort to bring commonality to us, to introduce characters that we can relate to and feel close to as living, breathing beings. They make us see ourselves in everyday form.
This series is an astonishing threefold tale of love. One gay, one straight, and one never to be. It shows different stages of how love develops and takes us to newer levels of commitment; to what love should look like even with all of life’s bumps, missteps, roadblocks, and the reality of life’s finality. Watching this series should and ought to make you turn to the person you love, or say you love, or want to love – confess your love as “I love you.” Before it becomes too late.
The first love story is between Vai Son (Hao Dan) and Via Dang (Ngoan Truong). Not a particularly unusual story, actually, but told with care and mindfulness. ‘Bad boy’ Dang is hauled up to his grandmother’s place in very rural Vietnam. There, for some reasons which are made clear as a part of his story, is a young man, a bit older than Dang who has taken the responsibility of teaching and babysitting his rural neighbors’ children so that the family members can work. While not a teacher by profession, he reluctantly agrees to teach Dang. Son is a rather elusive figure- keeping mostly to himself, an introvert yet willing to help everyone in the community. He is helpful to everyone who wants and needs his assistance. As time goes on, Dang and Son become closer and form a bond of friendship, eventually leading to a love connection. It happens quickly (this series is very short), but it all feels as if time has passed by naturally. Their relationship seems comfortable and commonplace and not rushed. The mother finds out about the secret affair and has the usual concerns about having her son, her only son, and heir to the family name, going out with a guy who cannot offer stability or a family.
How that is all handled is simply brilliant, and the dialogue and scenes between them are some of the finest exchanges I have seen and heard between parents, children, and partners. The screenplay, even with the translations, was precise, crisp, and sounded so authentic. For example, while the mother wants Dang to get married, Son reminds her that ‘marriage is an identity that sometimes binds people legally and socially, but it is not the destination of love.” I found that, along with so many other stunningly beautiful exchanges between various characters, to be some of the most touching and heartfelt dialogues I have ever heard in any BL. They are sincere, honest, relatable, and completely come from the heart. Sometimes I cried due to these heartfelt lines and moments, from their sheer beauty; sometimes I cried from the relatable pain that was being emitted.
The second love story is an incredible one between Vai Quynh (Tieu Thanh) and Vai Quan (Thai Khang). Quynh is deaf and tries to raise her younger sister meagerly by making hair ribbons. Accidentally, Quan bumps into her and he is smitten by her. He goes to Son to teach him ‘sign language’, so he can learn to speak her language. Son is adept in sign language as his younger sister was deaf as well. I cannot begin to tell you about the eloquent exchanges between Quan and Quynh once the communications become comfortable for both of them. All done with no words, just the beauty of gestures, which proved that sometimes no words are needed to convey emotions. This is the pinnacle of love and commitment and is a story not often displayed with such gentility. It is a story of pure love, unconditionally and unequivocally. There is also an exchange between Quynh and Quan’s mother welcoming her into the family that had me completely in tears of joy. It was breathtaking and captured the meaning of true love. Unconstraint. Basic. Accepting. Beautiful. It is a stunningly inspirational scene that is shown in complete serenity.
The third love story is a bit more perimetric. It is between a ‘bad apple’ in the village named Vai An (Kien Hao) who lives marginally by stealing. He has an odd but compelling mark on his face, like a tattoo. I wish I knew its meaning. He is rescued and befriended by Vai Vi (The Bang). Vi presents an image of serenity and grace. He seems to have a sense of acceptance of his reality. Their friendship deepens to where affection develops between the two. Perhaps even seeds of love and forbearance. Vi tries to get An onto a better path in life. But it is a love story that is not meant to be. I cried here, not so much because of sadness, but more so because of the aura of emptiness and loss. It is seen in Vai An’s face. Love is so elusive.
Who really S.T.O.L.E. this series? This is unique among the annals of BLs for me. Everyone connected with this story stood out, including the supporting performers. The grandmother is astonishing. An elderly neighbor gentleman who loses his wife, who only wanted the one thing from him that he never gave her, is one of the most heartfelt and emotional scenes I have ever seen. I sobbed uncontrollably for him and the regret he realized he must live with. I believe the credit here is not just for acting, which is superb, but for the screenplay. This is one of the best-written screenplays I have ever had the privilege to hear and see put into motion. It got into the details of the simple basics of everyday living and made them stand out so we could see their importance even when we do not see them in our own lives. It brought life to characters that are normally forgotten, dismissed, or blended into society with no fanfare and made them shine. We see these mostly forgotten ordinary people as having worth, deserving of love, and bringing dignity to a living that is often overlooked in the ordinariness of their lives.
I was moved by this passionate, beautiful story of love and life told in simple surroundings. I felt both joy and sadness. But after all, is that not what life is made up of?
This series is brilliant and a masterpiece of human storytelling if you immerse yourself in its core. Stop looking for its flaws and just see the frailty and fragility of our human existence. You will then see yourself as can connect to characters of the story, i.e Son, Dang, An, Vi, Quan or Quynh. It is a story about humanity. Just look for it. Better yet, let go and experience it through their eyes.
The title of this series is a saga all its own. It is poetic and almost a sonnet in and of itself. Oh God, it is breathtaking. Look for the gentleness of the night scene.
This is by far the best BL I have seen this year and will unquestionably be a contender for the best in 2023. I know what its criticisms will be based on. The production was obviously on a shoestring budget. It feels rushed and perhaps suffers from a lack of production finesse. All irrelevant because even with a low budget they managed to produce a story so beautiful. This is a series of love told through ordinary eyes with ordinary people who are flawed, marginalized, and mostly forgotten. It is their story, and it is beautiful and powerful. It is a story of life, of death, of regret, and gives us brief glimpses into the might and power of love and what it can do for us. If we do not seize it, it will vanish.
I am begging you. Please do not overlook Vietnamese BLs as they have immense potential in them, story, acting everything. You are missing stories that will touch your spirit, allow you to feel love, augment your ethos, and give you a sense of commonality with all of us. It is so much more than mere story telling; it is about a living moving spirit called – humanity.
We should all dream that in our lives we can have one star in the sky to follow us.
Rating- 5+ out of 5
Streaming on- Team RL YouTube Channel
Edited by- Dee
2 thoughts on ““The Star Always Follow You” Series Review (Ep.1 to 8)”
This sounds promising- thanks for writing about it!
The ideas brought up in Vietnamese BLs are interesting and full of potential. What brings them down a bit are the technical issues, lack of flow in screenplays and amateurish acting. But when it gets it right- they can overcome much of this with the sincerity you mention. Love Bill is currently my fave Vietnamese BL- great acting by leads and Da Lat scenery overcome some plot/script hiccups- looking forward to this one- hope it is on YT:)
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I do hope you enjoy this one. I completely agree with you about the criticisms of Vietnamese BLs. I liked this one much better than even Love Bill. Yes, it is on YT. This is one of my favorites!