Written by “Euphoria” director Sam Levinson, producers Reza Fahim and The Weeknd, “The Idol” is facing a series of mixed opinions even though it’s only half way through. 

“The Idol” consists of 6 episodes and is broadcast every Sunday at 9 pm (Monday 8 am Vietnam time) on HBO television channel. The film’s content revolves around Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a pop star who recently experienced the pain of losing a loved one. After that incident, she fell into a spiral of addiction and mental health problems that caused her career to plummet. In an effort to regain her lost glory, Jocelyn begins a complicated relationship with nightclub owner and cult leader Tedros (The Weeknd).

After 3 episodes released, although often compared to “Euphoria” for similarities such as: party culture, rampant hot scenes, substance abuse,… “The Idol” was not as well received as it was. predecessor work. Even though this movie project has the participation of the most famous stars such as Lily Rose-Depp, The Weeknd, Jennie (BLACKPINK), Troye Sivan,… “The Idol” still only received a mere 24% score. Rotten Tomatoes” on Rotten Tomatoes. So what is the reason why the film is facing harsh criticism from audiences and experts?
Scandals before the premiere 
It is known that in April last year, director Amy Seimetz suddenly left the project “The Idol” when about 80% of filming was completed, making way for Sam Levinson (also the founder of “Euphoria”). Explaining this, HBO only briefly explained that the film will have major creative changes and some adjustments to the cast and crew will be needed.

Faced with that little information, The Rolling Stone determined to find out the truth by interviewing 13 members who directly worked on the movie project “The Idol”. The two said HBO wanted to keep the budget low at about $54 million for the 6-episode series (about $9 million per episode). It’s worth mentioning that this figure is only half the budget of the upcoming third season of “Euphoria”, which is expected to cost at least $110 million. Despite the limited investment, HBO expects director Seimetz to bring spectacular results like “Euphoria” – from the script to the lavish setting, this is almost an “impossible task” for directed by Seimetz.

Additionally, directors Amy Seimetz and Sam Levinson have completely different visions for “The Idol.” While Amy wanted to focus on female lead Jocelyn and her career, directors Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye (The Weekend) felt the show needed to drop the feminist elements and shift toward a “dark fairy tale” story. of fame. A member of the film crew commented: “The film changes the plot from a woman discovering herself, to a man constantly abusing her, and worse, she loves it. ”
The script has too many hot scenes and lacks depth

Some people in the film crew revealed that the script was changed up to 20 times compared to the original, with adjustments even occurring on the day of filming. They revealed that sometimes they themselves don’t understand where the movie is going, so it’s hard for the audience to avoid feeling confused when watching the movie.

Even though Sam Levinson and The Weeknd are trying to show the dark, insidious side of the entertainment industry in “The Idol,” the script is not working. The proof is that in the movie there are too many sensitive moments such as the scene where Tedros and Jocelyn make love together on the stairs, behind the car seat, in the dressing room, etc., making viewers feel “overwhelmed” and not understand the movie. What do you want to convey then? Because perhaps at the present time, every time “The Idol” is mentioned, people immediately remember the constant hot scenes, many people do not hesitate to compare the work to a real porn movie.

Some critics also felt sorry for the film’s potential concept – “We could have focused on Jocelyn’s life, desires and goals while exposing the ugly corners of the industry entertainment industry. We can also dig deeper into Jocelyn’s inner world, about what it’s like to be exploited as a pop star?”

But unfortunately, through the first 3 episodes, the character Jocelyn is only the object of sick sexual fantasies through men’s eyes, shown through quite misleading and lazy scenes and dialogues like ” Mental illness is sexy” or “He looks like a rapist/ Yeah, I kind of like that.” CNN critic Brian Lowry shared: “The script was clearly written by a man with little regard for or understanding of victims, rape culture or mental health.”
Bad acting 
The acting of the members in the film is also one of the hotly discussed topics since “The Idol” premiered. Although most of the main actors started out as models, singers, etc., the audience also expected more from their performances, especially from Lily Rose-Depp, daughter of actor Johnny Depp. . However, perhaps with a script that still has many limitations, the actors do not have the opportunity to show off all their talents.

It can be seen that Lily Rose-Depp tried very hard for her first leading role when she “balanced” everything from acting, singing to dancing. However, up to now, perhaps the most impressive scene in the movie is in the opening – when she shows 7 different emotions while taking photos for the new album cover: from happiness, sadness, innocent to sad, etc. In the remaining scenes, some critics believe that she is not ready for a role that requires internal struggle and needs to deepen the character’s psychology like Jocelyn, because of her expressive expressions. Depp’s face lacks emotion and is “one color”.

On the other hand, The Weeknd admitted that he applied the “Method Acting” method – when the actor transforms into a character during filming, even when away from the camera lens. turn. This caused the male singer to recently cancel a music performance because he “forgot how to sing”. The Weeknd shared in an interview: “Maybe I forgot how to sing because of the role of Tedros, a character who can’t sing.” Despite his efforts, his acting in “The Idol” has not received recognition from the audience. Many viewers frankly commented that The Weeknd has no acting skills at all, and “while he seems mysterious, viewers just see ‘not yet’.”

Jennie’s (BLACKPINK) acting is also something that is on the table. Many opinions say that the female idol has a “shy” and stiff expression, some think that from the beginning, the scriptwriter clearly defined her job as just “smiling and looking beautiful” and only being able to speak briefly . Only 3-4 lines of dialogue, so it’s understandable that Jennie hasn’t shown her full potential yet.

The dark side of the entertainment industry is always a potential topic to explore deeply and offer multi-dimensional perspectives, but it seems that the writer of “The Idol” has not done this well when only offering “the first part”. “tip of the iceberg” in a more complex and layered issue than that. However, hopefully in the second half of the journey, “The Idol” will dig deeper into the characters’ hearts so that viewers can better understand their choices. Or at least, tell the story in a more subtle and in-depth way.

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