CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Why the new romcom is the must-see movie of the year
Take two likeable leads: a dashingly handsome guy, and a pretty-butrelatable girl. Add in a tablespoon of chemistry, a touch of drama and a dollop of love before finishing off with a smattering of laughs and you’ve got all the ingredients for a smashhit romantic comedy.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good romcom – and by that
we mean a really good one, in the same league as When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless In Seattle, or game-changers such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, Crazy
Stupid Love and The Proposal. Well, it’s time to make way for your next romcom obsession, because Crazy Rich Asians is not only a brilliantly funny, groundbreaking film, but it’s been a huge success, too – the sequel has already been green lit.
The Cinderella-style story of Constance Wu and Henry Golding as lovers Rachel Chu and Nick Young, whose relationship gets tested when they head to Singapore for a friend’s wedding, has been a word-of-mouth hit since it opened last month, banking over $100m worldwide and garnering famous fans such as Chrissy Teigen, who declared it “wonderful”. heat’s resident
film expert Charles Gant explains, “There hasn’t been a hit romantic comedy movie featuring new characters in ages.
Crazy Rich Asians is really a classic story of social difference, of love clashing with notions of family duty and social hierarchy tradition: it’s Jane Austen. But for Jane Austen to be credible in 2018, it helps to have a society unfamiliar to most audiences.”
Following 2016’s #Oscarssowhite scandal, diversity in Hollywood has been a hot topic. Many people have pointed out that casting actors from different cultural backgrounds in major roles not only acts as an inspiration to children of immigrant families – who haven’t been used to seeing people who look like them onscreen – it also reflects the more diverse societies we actually live in.
Since then, we’ve had the Academy Award-winning
Moonlight and Marvel’s Black Panther, and now Crazy Rich Asians (referring to east Asians rather than those of Indian origin), which has the first all-asian cast in a Hollywood movie since 1993’s Joy Luck
Club. Familiar names such as Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger), Ken Jeong (The
Hangover films) and Gemma Chan (Humans) share screen time with talented newcomers, including Ocean’s Eight’s Awkwafina. But, as Romesh Ranganathan pointed out in The
Guardian recently, it’s all well and good having diverse casts, but the most important thing is that these films are actually good. Fortunately, CR A, based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 bestselling novel, is brilliant – and it doesn’t rely on lazy stereotypes. Sure, there’s a “tiger mom”, but don’t most mums just want the best for their sons? The vast array of kooky characters and larger-than-life personalities portrayed in the film ensure that their backgrounds are the last thing on the viewers’ minds.
Rebooting the romcom
CR A has been applauded for breathing new life into the romcom while ticking all the genre’s traditional boxes.
Handsome lead Nick has a touch of Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy about him, particularly in one scene where he helps people put their suitcases in the luggage rack on a plane while desperately trying to speak to his girlfriend. Both Nick and Rachel come from opposing backgrounds, too – while Nick is super-wealthy (he’s referred to as the “Prince William of Asia”) and was formerly the region’s most eligible bachelor, Rachel has working-class roots. Surely their love can transcend their differences?
Charles Gant says, “These characters are easy to care about and root for. Falling in love with a guy who’s secretly a prince more or less – it’s a fantasy, but one the movie makes us believe in.” Along with Rachel and Nick’s supportive friends, who help provide the laughs, and a Hangover-style stag do, there are enough layers to keep you invested in the characters.
There’s a strong feminist tone throughout, with plenty of potential role models. Brought up by her single mum – who taught her to follow her passion and be independent – Rachel isn’t some insipid, submissive girl who is reliant on her boyfriend. She’s a successful economics professor at NYU who barely notices her fiancé’s wealth. “I had no idea. You use my Netflix password!” she tells him.
When Nick’s family tries to shame her for being ambitious, Rachel doesn’t simper quietly, she rises above it, as she does with the mean girls’ bullying. But the award for best female character has to go to Peik Lin Goh (played by rapper Awkwafina), Rachel’s straight-talking and hilariously eccentric BFF, who helps her pal navigate the upper echelons of Singapore’s high society and sticks by her through everything.
An awesome cast, killer script and a central couple you genuinely root for – really, what’s not to love?
Awkwafina: “What’s that? I’m awesome in this movie?”
Nice jacket, Ken Jeong