Crazy Rich Asians
Director: Jon M. Chu
Based on the book by Kevin Kwan
“Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world,” (Napoleon Bonaparte).
A rather profound and inappropriate quote for the beginning of a delightful rom-com and though probably true, it certainly doesn’t match the tone of this immaculately produced and charming romance.
The tension in the film is between the two worlds of our young couple. ‘He’ ('Nick’, played by Henry Golding) is the heir apparent of a powerful Singaporean dynasty and Singapore’s most eligible bachelor while ‘she’ (‘Rachel’, played by Constance Wu) is an American born Chinese (ABC), successful academic and child of a single immigrant mother.
‘What is the problem?’, you may ask. Well, his family considers her far too ordinary and poor, while her ‘American-ness’ (translated as 'likely to be professionally ambitious after marriage') offends young Romeo’s mother (the ever glorious Michelle Yeoh), who has fought her own way into a family that always puts duty before passion.
‘Who cares?’ you may continue but, as a friend of Nick/Romeo points out, Nick will be fine whoever he chooses to marry while Rachel (his ABC Juliet), will be constantly made feel like a smelly fish, no matter how frothy their romance or great their sex life.
A wonderful foil to what will be an inevitable happy conclusion is the other young couple who also have a ‘mixed’ marriage. Nick’s cousin Astrid (the fabulously wealthy, beautiful and intelligent rel played by Gemma Chan ) and her x-military partner are a reminder of how destructive family disapproval can be. Their marriage ultimately falls apart from the stresses of an insecure partner's pride when continually met by social disapproval, leaving not only sadness as an obvious outcome but also a confused child.
A very cute portrayal of the flash vulgarity of Asian ‘new money’ is also a winner. The mega-mansion of Rachel’s best friend (Awkwafina) is a completely appropriate snapshot of what anyone with no taste and endless money can do when basing their home décor on badly interpreted Versailles and Donald Trump’s toilet. Rachel eloquently sums up our impressions when she first steps inside the billion dollar monstrosity: ‘The gold ‘is so … so shiny!’ she politely offers.
Loved the fact that this movie did not once feel like a novelty because of its all-Asian cast.