By Kate Brayden
I went to see the first movie with an all-Asian cast to be viewed in Hollywood since 1993’s ‘The Joy Luck Club’, and it blew me away.
It perfectly brought the rom-com genre back to life with diversity, and had huge implications for Asian-American actors and film-makers in all genres.
Representation shows itself to be a vital aspect of the industry, with the movie smashing box office expectations.
John M. Chu directs the film, and the cast truly lives up to the hype. The glitz, the glamour, the acting, and of course the breathtaking beauty of every aspect had me swooning in the cinema. Perfect for the big screen, each scene brought colours, dazzling cinematography, sumptuous settings and of course, the ‘over the top’ Great Gatsby vibes.
Set in Singapore, the movie follows the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, which portrays the romance between a Chinese-American NYU economics professor Rachel Chu and the heir to the famous Young family.
Chu has zero clue about the ridiculously wealthy family she is visiting in their mansion of Singapore, and it soon becomes clear that Rachel must navigate their world with extreme caution, as it is presumed that she is the gold digger who wants to steal Nick’s family fortune.
Constance Wu and Henry Golding have sizzling chemistry throughout, and the female antagonist Michelle Yeoh plays the part Nick’s Chinese mother as if she embodies the character IRL. She’s terrifying, but the woman demands respect.
The gorgeous diamond ring which features is also belonging to the actress, and boy is it stunning. Astrid (Gemma Chan)acts out the role of Nick’s gorgeous and intelligent sister, and deserves a shoutout also. Both generous and clever, she adds a female friendship and connection with Rachel to the storyline and provides a much needed layer to the rom-com flick.
The persistently strong female presence is such a breath of fresh air – the girl power is strong in this one.
The cast has seen its share of controversy, with the male lead Henry Golding being criticised for not being ‘Asian enough’.
For the record, he’s British Malaysian, and plays the protagonist male character Nick Young in the perfectly charming and dashing way necessary for the female lead to shine.
Nick Young: played by potential Crazy Rich (Bae)sian Henry Golding’ Constance Wu as Rachel nails the balance between vulnerability and strength throughout the flick, persistently gaining the audience’s trust with her charm and integrity.
We root for her, cry for her and laugh with her as she goes head to head with Nick’s scary as hell mother. Wu composed an email to the director asking him to push production back in order to cast her, and it worked.
She is open about the fact that she always pushes to get the lead role, never number two or three. Even superb actresses like Sandra Oh in Hollywood rarely get the lead role, and Wu’s determination is badass in itself. We, for one, are happy that email worked.
The Eastern symbolism which is layered throughout is also not to be ignored, specifically in the colours which the female cast wear, and the mahjong game scene between Rachel and Nick’s mother.
Awkafina stole the comedic scenes as Peik Lin, Rachel’s best friend. With her perfect delivery of the wittiest lines in her trademark husky, down to earth tone of voice. She gained fame previously as one of the stars of Oceans 8.
Ken Jeong (of course) makes a cameo appearance as Awkafina’s dad, and provides some of the funniest scenes in the whole film.
We don’t doubt that tourism for Singapore is going to go through the roof with all those stunning scenes, and the stars of the movie are steadily on the rise.
Also, Kwan’s book series is a trilogy, so let’s all pray for more films. Let’s also pray that we miraculously get the wardrobe of any cast member – literally any of them.
Crazy Rich Asians is breaking records as well as glass ceilings for more Asian roles in Hollywood. The film successfully proves that romantic comedies, and more diverse casts, are not to be sidelined.