When I first sat down for this past weekend’s screening of Crazy Rich Asians at Regal Cinema, I’ll be honest in saying that I wasn’t expecting much – I had long suspected that the loud hype was from many people who said the film was great without having actually seen it, and so I went in with a sense of careful excitement. Before the lights dimmed, an Asian couple sat down a few chairs away, and the young lady broke out a tissue box in preparation for the film, whispering within earshot, “I hope it’s as good as my mom said.”
Me too, Miss… I thought to myself
The film itself is directed by short film auteur John Chu, and features a predominantly Asian cast consisting of Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Goldling, Nora Lum (a.k.a. Awkwafina), Nico Santos, and Ken Jeong, and is based off of a trilogy of romance novels by Kevin Kwan, titled “Showdown: The Crazy Rich Competition” series.
Once the film started, I was immediately awestruck. The cinematography is a visual bath for the eyes, with the sets and lighting being akin to the 2013 rendition of The Great Gatsby if it took place in Singapore, the primary setting for this story. The music was a catchy blend of Southeast-Asian cultural music and Top 40 pop, and the script inspired a number of audible laughs time and again thanks to Ken Jeong’s presence, along with a few clever plays on American ideas of Asian culture (during one of the date scenes, a tourist asks Goldling’s character Nick if he knows where Mount Fuji is). In addition, the romance – the driving element of the plot – is very tender, gentle, and peaceful – a stark contrast to the outlandish and over-the-top screaming and in-fighting of American couples in most modern rom-coms.
As the film’s credits closed, I turned my head to take one last glance at the Asian couple as I was leaving, and my eyes filled with a bright sense of hope for the future of romantic films as the gentleman took a knee and proposed to his girlfriend as the lights were raised, and members of their family revealed themselves from under disguises in the theater.
Well, Miss… this is probably better than your mom said it would be.