Sunday 26 August 2018

Film Review: Crazy Rich Asians

John M Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians is the feel-good film of the year and a landmark moment for representation. 

New York economics professor Rachel (Constance Wu) has been dating Nick (Henry Golding) for just over a year when he suggests they fly to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding and to meet his family.

It isn’t until the couple arrive in Singapore that the breadth of Nick’s family and wealth hits home; the Young’s are practically royalty, with each cousin – from Gemma Chan’s Astrid, a shopaholic socialite with a heart of gold, to Ronny Chieng’s Eddie, a snooty Hong Kong broker – a celebrity in their own right.

The significance of their relationship quickly dawns on Rachel too, with Nick’s domineering mother Eleanor (a startlingly intense Michelle Yeoh) taking an immediate dislike to the commoner who has won her son’s heart. Rachel’s arrival on the scene has thrown a spanner in the works – after all, how can this American girl possibly measure up? – and so Eleanor sets out to get her way and uphold her family’s pedigree, by any means necessary. 

Dripping with pizzazz and visual splendour, Crazy Rich Asians is a crazy good time at the cinema. Chu packs the frame with wall-to-wall glitz and glamour, with the set design, costuming and overall production bursting at the seams with colour and culture. The direction, editing and soundtrack combine to create an effervescent affair with pops of energy and electricity. And the ensemble cast is packed with charming performances, from Yeoh’s icy composure to Awkwafina’s chatty BFF. 

Narratively it isn’t doing anything new – we’ve seen this kind of familial power struggle before in umpteen other romantic comedies. It’s essentially a Cinderella story where a dashing billionaire sweeps a shy girl off her feet. And a lot of the character moments along the way are to be expected. 

But the familiar storytelling beats shouldn’t detract from the fact that Crazy Rich Asians still offers something fresh, in that it tells a story that doesn’t thrust Asian (or Asian-American) characters to the fringe of the frame and instead explores the complex and contradictory in-between nature of being a Westerner of Eastern descent. 

Rather than one-note secondary character tropes – the nerdy IT worker, the meek surgeon – the characters in Crazy Rich Asians cover the whole spectrum and take centre stage. Forget always being a bridesmaid; it’s time to be the bride. That’s important representation to a segment of the audience that often gets neglected by mainstream Hollywood. 

The Verdict: 8/10

For that reason alone, Crazy Rich Asians is a must-see. It’s just an added bonus that it’s funny, heartfelt, frisky, profound and an all-round delightful time at the movies.

Crazy Rich Asians is in cinemas across Australia from Thursday August 30, with advanced screenings this weekend. 

1 comment:

  1. I really want to see it, but it hasn't been released in my country....and I don't think it will, anytime soon, so I guess I have to wait for it to come on Netflix :(



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