Crazy Rich Asians is the latest in a group of films this year that seek to broaden the inclusivity of mainstream films. Following the likes of Black Panther and Love, Simon, this adaptation offers the first majority Asian cast film from a
The film follows Rachel Chu, an economics professor in
As meaningful as Crazy Rich Asians is as a cultural moment, it would be far less effective if it weren't also a thoroughly enjoyable film in the process. Constance Wu makes a charming and endearing lead, supported by an ensemble packed with talent. The more dramatic moments play to the strengths of both Gemma Chan and Michelle Yeoh (who can be really quite terrifying in this film), while Awkwafina and Nico Santos make a very amusing comedy double as the most supportive members of the Singapore group. But each of the cast embody their parts well and it makes the film particularly likeable.
As with Love, Simon, this film is almost aggressively mainstream in its style. Director John M. Chu gives Crazy Rich Asians the kind of pleasing gloss and slickness we've come to expect from mainstream films, while
The element that stopped me loving the film is its representation of the wealthiest parts of society. At several points, the thought crossed my mind that it was all 'a bit much'. And maybe that's the point. Certainly there are times when excessive wealth is played up for laughs. But Crazy Rich Asians is also happy to wallow in it, and it is this that stops from loving it. There is no real appraisal of the extremely rich here, the film happy to assess critically just those who are grotesque with it. As successful as the film is at representing modern East Asian life, it can't quite achieve the nuance it seeks in deconstructing the 'crazy rich' part of the title. For a film with teeth when it comes to money, try The Queen of Versailles.
But if I wasn't quite into the Crazy Rich part of the title, this charming comedy makes up for it with the Asians part. The exploration of Rachel's immigrant identity is a genuinely affecting one, giving the film an emotional heft you would otherwise not expect. This, coupled with several very good performances, makes Crazy Rich Asians a fun, frothy rom com with a giant heart.