Crazy Rich Asians: Rich with Representation


Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

Hollywood has often been criticized for its lack of minority hirings, but with this new release it seems the tables are beginning to turn. Crazy Rich Asians follows the story of Rachel Chu, a college economics professor, and her boyfriend, Nick Young, who lives in New York City. When Nick plans to travel back to his family’s home in Singapore to be the best man at a wedding, he invites Rachel to come along in order to meet his family. Rachel expects Nick’s household to be humble and middle-class much like her own, but learns upon arrival just how wrong she is. The Young family is “crazy” rich, one of the wealthiest families in all of Singapore – but more importantly, none of them approve of Nick and Rachel’s relationship due to their traditionalist values. As Nick is caught up in the technicalities of being a best man, Rachel is left alone to navigate a contemptuous family and to fight for her right to love.

Crazy Rich Asians has dominated box office sales in the weeks since its release, and isn’t looking to slow down any time soon. Based off of a novel trilogy by Kevin Kwan, the book was on the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list when first published, and has sprung back to the top with the release of its movie adaptation. Kwan has stated that the story is loosely based off of his childhood growing up in Singapore, and is meant to illustrate modern-day Asia to non-Asian audiences.

This film was the perfect combination of wittiness, romance, and culture. It was absolutely hilarious, with its constant snarkiness and sarcasm passed back and forth between characters, while still offering many heartwarming moments between the two leads as they continued to develop their relationship. There were several moments when everyone in the audience was giggling or chuckling at characters’ interactions, and several “aw”-worthy moments as well. Plus, the Asian representation in this movie is nothing less than phenomenal, with a predominantly Asian cast and an insight into Asian culture. Additionally, it had fun animations throughout, adding to the picture’s overall vibrancy and lighthearted nature.

The movie also spent a good amount of screen time focusing on side characters such as Nick’s cousin, Astrid, giving multiple perspectives on the life of someone in a “rich family”. This was interesting to watch, as it offered different interpretations of the glamorous life that the Youngs lived while calling to attention some of the additional conflict that being a celebrity family causes. The multiple perspectives allowed for some of the antagonistic characters to seem more dynamic and dimensional, or at least created some sympathy for them in the watcher.

The thing that stuck out the most about this movie, however, was its amazing soundtrack. Featuring a combination of songs sung in Chinese and English, being constantly upbeat and offering a vintage vibe to the film. Its cheery ambiance layered overtop of its vibrant picture and persistent plot amplified the whole movie-watching experience, making the soundtrack truly one of the greatest elements of this buoyant movie.

While Crazy Rich Asians held true to its rom-com roots, there were certainly elements of realistic multiculturalism in the film. Kevin Kwan has stated before that the story is meant to be satirical with its representation of wealthy East and Southeast Asian families, but many readers and watchers have spoken out about how true to life this style of living is for many people. The movie also focuses on the conflict between mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese, consisting of prejudices that are common in Asia but not well-known in the Western Hemisphere. Both Kwan and the film writers were very effective in their portrayal of Asian culture in this way, helping bring some of these conflicts to light.

Crazy Rich Asians was simply a fantastic movie, and has certainly lived up to all the hype surrounding it in recent weeks. Let us hope that Hollywood will use this film as a basis for fruitful entertainment and cultural representation in all of its future movies.