Arts movie review

‘I know this much, you will never be enough’

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ brings a new perspective into the limelight

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Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding) sharing a tender moment in 'Crazy Rich Asians.'
Sanja Bucko

Crazy Rich Asians
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim
Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan
Starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina
Rated PG-13
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When I first heard about Crazy Rich Asians, I was met with the general excitement that everyone else in the Asian American community felt. You know, the “Finally! There’s a big blockbuster film that will have a majority Asian cast!” kinda feeling. Then, my mother (in typical Asian mom fashion) instilled a doubt within my excitement. What if this movie ends up actually being terrible? What if it’s just a copy of those bad Chinese dramas? What if it’s even worse than those bad Chinese dramas?

Well, in hindsight, those doubts seem pretty silly now. There are really no obvious signs pointing to Crazy Rich Asians being an absolutely terrible movie. The casting is strong with familiar talents such as Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, and Ken Jeong; and even then, the newer faces brought fresh blood into the acting pool, including Henry Golding and Nico Santos. The director’s filmography includes Now You See Me 2, which wasn’t bad, and Peter Chiarelli wrote the screenplay for The Proposal, one of the classic rom-coms to date.

Now, plot-wise, Crazy Rich Asians is fairly simple. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) agrees to go to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to accompany him at his best friend’s wedding. However, upon arriving, Rachel quickly realizes that Nick has been hiding a key part of his family’s identity: they are one of the wealthiest families in the area. With this reputation comes a great deal of family pride and desire to hold onto this legacy, along with a nasty bout of jealousy for the handsome, wealthy bachelor.

On her personal journey in dealing with Nick’s inevitably judgmental family, it is revealed that the cast of characters are very complex and far from stereotypical. Yes, Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) despises Rachel at first, but it’s because she does not believe Rachel will live up to the pressures of a wealthy life and will only bring shame to their family. Eleanor is afraid of losing her son to a “pampered” American and losing the family business with her only competent son’s potential escapade to New York. Another character I really enjoyed getting to know is Oliver T’sien (Nico Santos), another one of Nick’s many, many cousins. As far as first impressions go, extravagant fashionista Ollie makes a great, friendly one. He is immediately introduced as a caring support character in Rachel’s journey and even briefly shares his outsider relatability to her by stating that he is the “rainbow sheep” in the family.

The relatability of the film also feels very universal, despite the majority Asian cast and use of Asian notions and traditions. Rachel’s outcast role during the bachelorette party or the effect of Michael’s (Pierre Png) betrayal was felt by everyone watching in the audience. The very deep moments are also quite poignant and are very well developed in the grand scheme of Crazy Rich Asians, from Eleanor standing her ground against Rachel’s intrusion into the family dynamic to Rachel rekindling her spirit and finding her voice again in the face of adversity.

I also just really appreciated Rachel’s relationship with her mother, showing a different side of Asian parents than the stereotypical tiger mom. It reminded me of my own deeply loving and nurturing relationship with my mother, and I enjoyed seeing that kind of representation on the big screen. It was also a welcome sight to see more Cantonese than Mandarin in a mainstream representation, but I digress.

I’m usually not one to watch rom-coms of my own volition, but I do not regret seeing Crazy Rich Asians. If you want to see a film diversified with regards to cast, themes, characters, and meaning, I highly recommend checking this movie out at some point.