Crazy Rich Asians (PG)

In a Word: Proud

Crazy Rich Asians

Constance Wu stars as Rachel and Henry Golding as Nick in Crazy Rich Asians. PICTURE: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

 

"The strength of Crazy Rich Asians is in the way they have perfectly captured the Asian culture and mindset in a way that is humorous without being derogatory."

Crazy Rich Asians holds the audacious claim of being the first Hollywood film in 25 years to have an all-Asian cast. After taking the number one spot at the US box office, it is clear that a film like this is long overdue.

The romance at the centre of this comedy revolves around Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a bright young economics professor who has been dating Nick Young (Henry Golding) for the past year. When Nick invites Rachel to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding, it is slowly revealed that Nick's family are “crazy rich” and she is suddenly plunged into a world of lavish decadence.

Rachel must deal with Nick’s fearsome mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), jealous ex girlfriends, the burden of the public’s expectations and a disturbing secret from her past. Despite these challenges, Rachel has college best-friend Goh (Awkwafina) and Nick’s compassionate cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan) in her corner. The former also provides some welcome comic relief while the latter brings an emotional subplot.

The strength of Crazy Rich Asians is in the way they have perfectly captured the Asian culture and mindset in a way that is humorous without being derogatory. Smiles abound as the story includes references to the food culture, the materialism, the image consciousness and the family values that any Asian will find immediately familiar. And, though there are some self-deprecating chuckles, the biggest grins come because of the way this film portrays Asians and their culture as powerful, desirable and beautiful.

The whole package is brought together with an attractive cast, the right blend of humour and drama, and, a most worthy nemesis to foil the romance - the mother, Eleanor. Michelle Yeoh plays the part of Eleanor perfectly, this time, trading the sword she wielded in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for something even more deadly: a judgmental tongue laced with passive aggressiveness. Against such an adversary, Rachel can only win by sacrificing that which she holds most dear. The message of the film is a universal truth - that the greatest gain comes only when you are willing to accept complete loss.

The truth of this message not only plays out for the characters in the story but is also reflected in the making of this film. Reportedly, author Kevin Kwan and director Jon M Chu were offered a massive payout from Netflix with the catch that the story would have to be “westernised". Instead, they chose the riskier path, to retain creative control in a smaller deal with Warner Brothers and their boldness has paid off. Crazy Rich Asians is capturing hearts and minds across the globe and is paving the way not only for sequels but for a cultural shift in Hollywood. In many ways, what Black Panther achieved for African-American culture, Crazy Rich is doing for Asians - instilling pride to an under-represented culture.