An unexpected hit as a Chinese-centric rom-com, it doesn’t just open the door wider for cultural diversity in Hollywood studio-filmmaking, but is a decent genre offering in itself.
Dir. Jon M. Chu
2018 | USA| Comedy/Drama/Romance | 120 mins | 2.39:1 | English
Not rated (likely to be PG13 for some sexual references and violence)
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu
Plot: This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.
Awards: Nom. for 2 Golden Globes – Best Picture (Comedy/Musical) & Best Actress (Comedy/Musical)
Distributor: Warner Bros
Subject Matter: Light-Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Mainstream
(Reviewed on Blu-ray)
An unexpected hit last year for Warner Bros, Crazy Rich Asians holds particular resonance for my people as the story is set in Singapore, and is adapted from the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan (who is better known here as the guy who defaulted on his National Service). Some parts of the film were shot in Singapore, which was kind of a big deal for us because, well, Hollywood glamour and glitz came to our unexciting shores.
Grossing more than US$200 million worldwide, Crazy Rich Asians is one of the most successful romantic-comedies of the last decade. But more importantly, it opened the door wider for cultural diversity in Hollywood studio-filmmaking, though one must be careful to regard the film’s title with a pinch of salt—after all the movie is not about Asians, but Chinese people who are incidentally very, very, obscenely wealthy.
There are not many like the Young family as portrayed in the film in Singapore; most of us here are either working- or middle-class folks struggling to raise our families and save for our retirement. In other words, avoid delusions of grandeur if you ever visit my country.
“I’m so Chinese I’m an Econs professor with lactose intolerance.”
An American-Chinese, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), tags along with her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), when the latter returns to Singapore to celebrate a close friend’s wedding, and ends up having to face Nick’s extended family (warts and all) and socialite friends (more warts), who waste no time judging her.
Wu and Golding have excellent chemistry, but Michelle Yeoh, who plays Nick’s critical mother is the anchor point for the entire film. Her character is the bridge that Rachel and Nick must cross (together).
As a rom-com, Crazy Rich Asians delivers where it matters in relation to laughs and tears; it’s not a terrific film but it is a decent and enjoyable one. In fact, I was surprisingly moved by the wedding sequence, which shifted from its boisterous beginnings to an utterly exquisite and heartrending ‘river’ entrance by the bride, intercut with shot-reverse shots of Rachel and Nick looking endearingly at each other.
In a movie full of glitz and excess, this was a rare moment of beauty.