All the media hype of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel, Crazy Rich Asians did not fail to deliver. The trailblazing romance comedy movie with an all Asian cast was rife with vibrant and free-spirited characters that our jaws hurt from laughing so hard. It was an extravagant display of power and brazen wealth while trying to resolve imperially an all too conflicting familial duty against the desires of the heart.
The opening scene was brief but sufficient to convey a strong message. Old money fixes everything- even a callous case of racism. Perhaps it also gives us a glimpse of the constant struggles that people of other race face even in a simple case of staying in a hotel.
Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding) were effervescent in their characters. There is a hint of biased since I am an Asian but I think they won the movie-goers with their indomitable spirits. The theatre was not full but the whole two hours was filled with laughter and loud reactions.
The gentle tug on my heart came when I saw the familiar Singapore Changi airport. I suddenly missed home so much that seeing a recognizable place almost made me teary-eyed. The sight of so many familiar Asian cuisines as seen in street-stall delicacies like satay, dumplings and curry made my stomach growl at the same time made my eyes a little bit misty. The ‘lah’ at the end of the sentence reminded me of my former Singapore and Malay co-teachers and elicited a bit of a chuckle.
The movie was a treasure trove of cultural display. The rich ethnicity of Chinese people was so distinct and although humor was injected in most of them, the truth is palpable. They favor their own people and Rachel is just too ‘American’ to belong to their family. The movie painted a dazzling picture of Singapore and Marina Bay Sands hotel was majestic and grandeur as expected.
The underlying issues with Rachel’s plight were brought into what might be cruel but the truth nonetheless- she will never be enough. It is not just the question of wealth and power but also tradition and culture. Eleanor, Nick’s mother, exudes this aura of opulence and it is difficult to dislike a mother who thinks she knows what’s best for her son. Chinese culture goes deeper than the world-defined hierarchies or imperial influence and the movie clearly depicted that.
Crazy Rich Asians brought me into nostalgic reminiscences of my visits to Singapore. I caught myself exclaiming several times, "I've been there!" The places, the food, the people made the movie too ‘Asian’ that my eyes got misty thinking of the other part of the world I call home.