crazy rich asians

DIRECTOR: jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe retaliation, now you see me 2)
STARRING: constance wu, henry golding, Awkwafina, and michelle yeoh

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. She's also surprised to learn that Nick's family is extremely wealthy and he's considered one of the country's most eligible bachelors. Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse -- Nick's disapproving mother.

Hollywood has experienced a watershed moment over the last eight months. The #MeToo movement has begun to change the power dynamics in the halls of Hollywood, The Shape of Water, which at its heart is a film about the 'outcasts' of society being the heroes of the story instead of sideline characters, won Best Picture at the Oscars, and then there was the cultural and box office colossus that was Black Panther that finally delivered an African - American superhero to the silver screen and told an African - American story. 

 

The stories that are being told, the way that they are being told, and who is telling them in these big studio films are starting to look a little different. This is not only good for diversity's sake, for more people being able to see a person like them or a story like theirs on the big screen, but it also helps people understand one another. 

Rachel and Nick fall for each other in New York and head back to Nick's home of Singapore for a friend's wedding. Rachel soon learns that Nick is from a very wealthy family and she must learn to navigate family and social circles if Nick and her are to have a future together. 

Crazy Rich Asians is a simple enough story. Poor girl falls for rich guy, must find her place in the family etc etc etc. You've heard it or seen it all before. Some may call it part soap part rom com. But that's belittling. It's so much more than that.

 

The way in which director Jon M. Chu tells this story is fresh, funny, at times heart-string-pulling, and completely engaging. It's not just Rachel and Nick's story but Astrid, Nick's cousin, and Eleanor, Nick's mother's story. It's the story of a new world of happiness and self fulfilment head-butting with family and tradition. Crazy Rich Asians has a depth to it and reaches heights that similar films never achieve. 

Although it feels like an Asian story with deep, cultural elements, some that are quite obvious and some I definitely would have missed, it feels like this is a story that transcends a particular culture. As a white guy I felt deeply invested in the story and the characters and intrigued and enlightened by the new cultural elements I was discovering. Crazy Rich Asians really is that good. 

The acting is wonderful with Constance Wu and Henry Golding more than holding their own as the two leads, superbly supported by a tremendous ensemble cast with Awkwafina (Rachel's friend Goh), Gemma Chan (Nick's cousin Astrid), and Nico Santos (another cousin) particular standouts. 

Throughout the film I glanced around the packed theatre which, as in any big city, had a wide variety of different races, creeds, and cultures. Yet here we all were away from the horrific rhetoric that seeks to divide based on difference completely engrossed in a truly Asian tale. Crazy Rich Asians is a testament to the power of story to bring people, no matter how different they are, together. 

Crazy Rich Asians is not only a game changer when it comes to diversity, but its fresh, funny, at times heart-string-pulling, and completely engaging. One of the must watch films of the year. 

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