Who says romance is dead? Crazy Rich Asians, the film adapted from the 2013 bestselling novel of the same name by Singaporean-American author Kevin Kwan, tells the tale of a New York University economics professor who goes to meet her boyfriend's family in Singapore but is unaware of just how rich her significant other actually is.
Even though it seems a bit strange these days (especially with the internet and social media part of our daily lives), I suppose it is plausible if she really doesn’t care much about that aspect of his life – a point that is reinforced throughout the film.
Constance Wu stars as Rachel Chu, a middle-class Chinese-American economics professor. Henry Golding plays her mega-rich Singaporean boyfriend, Nick Young. They’re off to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding and for a chance to meet Nick’s family. Rachel’s never been to Asia before despite her Chinese heritage, and is introduced to a world she’s unfamiliar with.
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Michelle Yeoh plays Nick’s domineering mother Eleanor who makes it known that she doesn’t approve of their relationship – because she believes Rachel is not only too poor, but too Americanised, and doesn’t hold the same values that would be good for her son. “You’re not our kind,” she coldly says.
The film ticks all the boxes of a classic romcom: it's funny, it centres on romantic ideals and at some emotional high points and has even made me tear up. The epic wedding scene sung along to Kina Grannis' cover of Can't Help Falling in Love was one of them. It also beautifully shows off parts of Singapore (where a majority of the film was shot) and Malaysia (used as the setting for colonial mansion for the Young household).
The movie is also helped by strong cast of supporting characters including Gemma Chan, Awkwafina and Ken Jeong, the latter who are both comedic gold. The film does a fantastic job of hitting its emotional peaks when it needs to – whether it’s sad, happy or something in between.
Crazy Rich Asians has also been hailed as the first Hollywood film since The Joy Luck Club to feature an all-Asian ensemble cast. It features actors from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Britain, Australia, the United States and more. There are no ethnic stereotypes, just a lot of talent brought together to make an impressive movie.
After 30 years, I’ve finally found a film that has a leading lady I can relate to. As a Chinese-American, the film resonates with me in many ways including the guilt of wondering if I was too Chinese to be American or too American to be Chinese. Understanding the struggle that Rachel goes through made me find her character more relatable, especially when it comes to the clash between balancing Western and Asian culture and questioning familial duties versus chasing my own dreams.
On the more simplistic side, Crazy Rich Asians tells a classic love story between two likeable characters who struggle with figuring out how to make their relationship work because of their contrasting backgrounds. Wu and Golding's chemistry translates well on the big screen and you want to root for them. Yeoh is also superb playing the "mother-in-law from hell". The supporting cast is equally as mesmerising and as a whole and the film does its job as a romcom. You'll laugh, you might cry but you'll definitely leave the theatre feeling good after watching it.
Crazy Rich Asians is out in UAE cinemas on August 16