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Much has been written about the impact of Jon M Chu’s adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians. Indeed, it’s not insignificant that the film is the first Hollywood studio movie to feature a majority Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. Yet to evaluate it solely on the basis of representation is to do it a disservice and to further narrow the parameters of how we’re allowed to talk about movies that feature “diverse” actors.
Chu’s film is somewhere between My Big Fat Greek Wedding and a Jane Austen novel: meticulous and hilariously alert to social structures, family dynamics and money, with a plucky underdog heroine. Rachel Chu (Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu) is, by her own admission, “so Chinese I’m an economics teacher with lactose intolerance”. A game theory specialist raised in New York by a single mother, she agrees to take a trip to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (an extremely dashing Henry Golding) to attend a wedding and meet his family. Nick’s mother, the elegant, sneering matriarch Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), does not approve, for her son, as the title indicates, is crazy rich, creating an opportunity for Chu to explore new money versus old.
As far as pure romcom spectacle is concerned, it’s a sugary delight; a Chinese-language cover of Coldplay’s Yellow is gooey perfection. Golding has a real leading man quality and, crucially, nails the brooding smoulder. The writing is also very funny, particularly regarding Eleanor’s decidedly un-American cultural expectations. “Your room is ready … for you,” she tells her adult son.
Still, this romcom fan had her reservations. Yes, the clue’s in the name, but the film embraces the idea of capitalism as inherently romantic, indulging in sweeping, swooning, tourist board-approved vistas of Singapore’s most luxurious destinations. Like the Fifty Shades of Grey movies, there’s so much glittering surface that it feels like the dazzle might be a distraction by design.
Source: The Guardian
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