“Crazy Rich Asians” may open with some awful British racism, but it’s an effective shorthand way of introducing fearsome matriarch Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeo) and putting us firmly in the Young family’s corner. And it’s a necessary step too because we’re about to embark on a visually lavish exploration of the trials and tribulations of the lifestyles of the obscenely rich and wantonly famous, Singapore-style.
When native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an economics professor at NYU is invited by her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to come to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding, she is astounded to discover that Nick is the prodigal son of one of Singapore’s richest and most influential families. Suddenly, Rachel finds herself under intense scrutiny, especially from the ruthless and disapproving eye of Nick’s mother Eleanor.
“Crazy Rich Asians” is a delightfully warm and witty romantic comedy by way of the high-powered, glamorous soap operatics of “Dallas” and “Dynasty”. Constance Wu and Henry Golding have a wonderful onscreen chemistry and its testament to the entire cast that the impossibly indulgent and gratuitously extravagant antics on screen never overshadow the characters and human drama at its centre.
Opulent and alluring, the film is packed with visual spectacle, showcasing the finest finery Singapore has to offer. Fast cars, fine dining, the last word in ostentatious fashion and jewellery, it’s affluenza on an epidemic scale as it explores the tensions and contradictions of the culture clash between the weight and expectations of tradition and the more modern sensibilities of second-generation American immigrants who have embraced their new world alongside their own.
Frothy, frivolous, funny and moving, yet important and insightful, “Crazy Rich Asians” is an expertly crafted tale of embracing diversity and being true to your roots, whatever they may be. An absolute delight.