Funny, charming and heart-warming: if you’re a fan of a good rom-com, you’ll love Crazy Rich Asians. In between all the family drama and quirky comedy, it’s an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Based on a novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, it’s a feel-good story to say the least.
The protagonist, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), is an Economics professor at NYU who earns a comfortable living. When her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) invites her on a trip to Singapore to meet his family at a friend’s wedding, she happily accepts, though she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. It turns out his family are rich. Like, filthy rich, and suddenly Rachel finds herself searching for her space in a world foreign to her. His mother Eleanor’s (Michelle Yeoh) approval isn’t easy to win, and the family may be bringing their own hoops for Rachel to jump through.
The film has Asian actors in all the main roles, making it the first Hollywood film to do so since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. The presence of this underrepresented demographic on the big screen has led to a great deal of excitement and rightly so. Kevin Kwan once mentioned that he wrote this story to give Western audiences the chance to experience stories of contemporary Asia, and the response from audiences has shown definite signs of success.
Though all the actors perform brilliantly throughout, the comic relief characters are a particular strength, adding layers of laughter and a quirky and light-hearted spin on a film full of family drama. Rachel’s best friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) is a lovable loudmouth with no filter and a fondness for tagging along to fancy soirees. Her performance is brilliant and evoked a great deal of laughter from the audience. Other notable comedic characters include Peik Lin’s father (Ken Jeong) and Oliver (Nico Santos), a stylist who helps Rachel soul-search throughout the film.
Though this film may not exactly pass the Bechdel test, it is refreshing to follow a strong female character throughout the story. Rachel is a young woman whose positive self-image and complex character becomes increasingly apparent throughout the film. She is faced with questions regarding where she comes from, what she values and who she wants to be. This is exciting, and she’s a relatable character even to those who aren’t ‘crazy rich’ or Asian.
Though issues surrounding the family’s wealth and social class are somewhat explored in the main storyline, there are also a few interesting family dynamics that get glossed over. The story could have explored the relationship between Nick’s cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her husband more deeply, as it touches on some very interesting issues surrounding masculinity and the impact of wealth in relationships. However, this is something that could be addressed in the sequels Warner Bros. have already confirmed.
In a nutshell, Crazy Rich Asians is really fun. It is touching, sweet, empowering at times and overall a very enjoyable two hours.
Image Credit: Movie DB.