I guess I’ve seen this plot-line 77 times in the last year alone. A young couple, madly in love, return to his or her home town for a special event—a wedding or holiday or some such—and to introduce their parents to their Significant Other. And “other” is the operative word here. The “otherness” involves a difference in religion or ethnicity or class. Either his parents or her parents or both sets of parents object emphatically to the match. So in order to appease their parents, the couple breaks up—temporarily. And the rest of the movie or play involves what they go through to get back together again.
This is the plot line of “Crazy Rich Asians”, a beautiful new film that has won much-deserved acclaim from both critics and audiences. And the operative word here is “beautiful”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful people all together in such an extraordinarily beautiful city: Singapore. Every woman is exquisite and nearly all the men are hunks. In fact, you could turn off the sound and just watch the people cavorting in their beautiful, exotic costumes and come away from the film completely satisfied.
The gorgeous protagonists in this romantic comedy are Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding). Rachel, who was born in China and brought to America as a young girl, earns the immediate disapproval of Nick’s mother, Eleanor, (Michelle Yeoh) who considers her a Chinese-AMERICAN and certainly not “one of us.” The “us” in question is a coterie of society’s oldest and richest families, and even though Rachel speaks Chinese and is a University professor teaching, of all things, economics, she cannot measure up to Eleanor’s standards as a girl qualified to marry her son.
Further, before they arrived in Singapore Nick had not told Rachel about his family, so she was overwhelmed to learn that he was the son and heir of one of the wealthiest men in all of Asia. She was also overwhelmed by their community’s lifestyle: it seemed that they never went anywhere, or partied, without an entourage of at least 200 friends. And the wedding festivities were incredible: in one scene the female wedding guests were taken to an enormous display of extravagant gowns and told to pick out as
many as they liked, as a gift from the bride and her family.
“Crazy Rich Asians”, so rambunctious and colorful, is neatly served by the astute direction of Jon Chu and the glowing cinematography of Vanja Cernjul. Scenes were shot in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia, but the elegant architecture and spotlessly clean streets of Singapore were a special treat for the eyes and made you want to hop on the next plane immediately.
Or at least add it to your bucket list!
The film itself is an adaptation of an international best-seller written by Kevin Kwan in 2013. It was his first book, and he has since written two more which will undoubtedly be showing up at your local theater within the next year or two.
“Crazy Rich Asians” opened here in Los Angeles and in New York last week and grossed a mind-boggling $34,000,000 over its first weekend.