By Jack Dignan
Crazy Rich Asians is making its voice heard throughout the world. People are talking. Audiences are raving. Crowds are flooding into the theatre to check it out. This film means so much to so many people, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find somebody out there who doesn’t know a thing about it. With its Australian release mere days away, I got the chance to finally sit down and check this film out, discovering for myself why this movie has an incomparable amount of hype surrounding it, and honestly, I had a ball watching this film.
There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking when it comes to the general plot, aside from the obvious and very important cultural significance, and yet at the same time, it works wonders. Based on the book of the same name, we follow the story of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an Asian-American woman who just found out her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), is kind of sort of basically a billionaire. When Nick’s best friend is getting married back in Singapore, the two travel back to Nick’s home as a couple, where Rachel will finally get the chance to meet Nick’s mum Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh). However, their relationship is put to the test when Eleanor disapproves of Rachel, forcing Nick to choose between his partner and his family.
It’s a sweet, charming and well-intended rom-com that’ll bring you to tears just as easily as it’ll make you cry. In fact, I didn’t realise just how much I was enjoying this movie until I started tearing up at the goddamn wedding scene… and then didn’t stop until the final credits rolled. Crazy Rich Asians has the emotionally rich, heartfelt backbone that all other rom-coms think they have. So while the narrative itself doesn’t necessarily cover much we haven’t seen before, its undeniable charm and inclusive attitude redeem most of the shortcomings.
Constance Wu of Fresh Off The Boat fame is the wondrous, loveable core of the film, and she absolutely gives this her all with a truly breakthrough lead performance. Her character doesn’t have quite as important of a decision to make as her significant other does, which at times raises the question of why we’re focusing on the one character who struggles to find a central dramatic conflict, but she’s a far more developed character than Golding’s Young will ever be. It’s not so much a fish out of water story as it is a fish being accepted by water story, and the mistrusting dynamic between her and Yeoh’s brilliant portrayal of Eleanor is captivating.
I always find myself less than impressed with the work of Jon M. Chu’s filmography, which ranges from Justin Bieber documentaries to Step Up sequels to Now You See Me 2, but with a script as charming as this one, and performances that are incredibly likeable and charismatic, he does a passable job with his directorial efforts. It’s nothing special or noteworthy, and honestly the directing becomes noticeably bad in a few scenes, particularly the bachelor party, but Chu finally made a film I enjoyed, and I can’t deny that. You don’t have to be a rom-com person to find something to love about this movie. There’s something for everyone, and it’s an utter delight to watch unfold.
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