4.55 over 5 stars.
What happens if Cinderella finds herself in modern-day Singapore?
You get Rachel Chu – a New York University economics professor who is lactose intolerant, and the she-protagonist of Crazy Rich Asians.
The rom-com-slash-drama Jon M. Chu film is a contemporary take on the classic fairytale romance. But instead of the would-be princess’ stepmom, it’s the prince’s mother who is the adversary.
Based on the Kevin Kwan book of the same name, the film tells the story of Rachel (Constance Wu) who is deeply in love with Nick Young (Henry Golding). Unbeknownst to her, the guy is crazy rich, and is probably the most eligible bachelor in whole of Asia. Well, he is just the son of a family of the biggest real estate developers in the super region. Take that!
Both Wu and Young are pure perfect for their roles. The chemistry brewing between them is truly undeniable. I felt how Rachel really loves Nick so much – that even if she is upset, she comes around easily because of Nick, and she is determined to fight for her love for him.
Anyway, the bomb only drops on Rachel when Nick takes her on a trip back to his home country, Singapore, to attend the wedding of Colin Khoo, Nick’s best bro. Well, Nick just surprised her with a first-class suite experience on board their flight to the Merlion’s territory.
In Singapore, Rachel meets with Gho Peik Lin (Awkwafina), an old school friend of hers. As expected, Awkwafina played her character with absolute hilarity. All her comic antics were very much on point!
Moving on, it was during a lunch shared with Lin’s family that she is informed of who Nick really is. Seeing that Rachel is inappropriately dressed for the Young party that evening, Lin lends her a Cleopatra-inspired piece, and drives her there.
At the party, Rachel finally sees the Young family in all its splendor first-hand. She is awed by the family’s enormous estate, and I say that I was too. The place is just breathtakingly ginormous and glamorous! Everything about the movie just is equally. The audience truly witnessed how the Young family is living a comfortable life.
There, Rachel easily realizes that Nick’s mother, Eleanor Sung-Young (Michelle Yeoh) dislikes her to the core. She soon learns as well that she is resented by many girls within Nick’s circle after she is bloodily tagged as a “gold-digging bitch” in the bachelorette party of Araminta Lee, Colin’s wife-to-be-soonest. Despite this, she seems to have made a good impression on Nick’s grandmother, Shang Su Yi. She also finds an ally in Astrid Leong-Teo (Gemma Chan), Nick’s cousin who is also having a family problem of her own. Anyway, can I just add that I loved Chan’s performance? She exuded royal elegance with a heart that is true. Well done!
Further unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick is already planning to propose to her, and already has a ring for her to wear! He breaks this news to Colin, who is delighted with it. However, he is also worried about Rachel as it is beyond any ounce of doubt that Nick’s mother disapproves of her.
When Nick learns how the girls resented Rachel, he apologizes, and brings her to the Young household to make some dumplings. Despite the joy brought by kneading doughs, Eleanor finally comes face-to-face with Rachel, and tells her that she will never be enough. I loved this scene because it really is symbolic – how Eleanor made Rachel take a step back on the staircase, making it appear that Eleanor is of the higher ground, and Rachel can never rise to her level. There is another symbolic scene in the movie, but I dare not spoil it for you!
Anyway, despite Eleanor’s act of belittling her, Rachel is not even close to raising the white flag. With the help of Lin and Oliver T’sien, Nick’s second cousin, acting as her fairy godmothers, Rachel is given a complete makeover. This proves effective at Colin and Araminta’s wedding, where nearly everyone, including Princess Intan (Kris Aquino), is impressed by her.
Still though, despite gaining their favor, there is still one person left, and her favor is the one Rachel needs the most. That is, Eleanor’s.
Can I just say that Aquino’s portrayal of the Malaysian royalty is commendable? I loved how the filmmakers gave her somewhat of a grand entrance towards the end of the film. She also really played her role very well. Actually, it was as if she was not Aquino at all! Princess Intan is just so refined, which is totally opposite to Aquino’s loud personality. Truly, her very short scene with Rachel is pivotal for the story. Kudos to Aquino for successfully living it up for her precious role!
So aside from being a Cinderella retelling, Crazy Rich Asians also delves on the classic you’re-heaven-I’m-earth drama formula. Nick is crazy rich – he is untouchable; but Rachel is the complete opposite. What is unique with this story though is that it took this story line in an Asian twist. It explored the traditional Asian culture of marrying one of our own. It further digs into the clash between the Asian tradition and the Western culture, and how the two can blend together seamlessly.
Crazy Rich Asians indeed has all the elements for a good movie – a compelling plot, wondrous sights, terrific cast, and good music. Oh, I think I forgot to mention how Coldplay’s “Yellow” is translated into Mandarin, and is used in the film. This is pretty symbolic to the movie as well, and you’ll really love the rendition when you hear it.
There you have it – Crazy Rich Asians is a definite must-see. It’s hard explaining all the things to love about the film without spoiling its story, but I did my best. Just go the cinema now, and watch it on the big screen so you’ll fall in love like crazy to it, just like how I did.
This blog post’s featured image a screencap from the trailer. Copyright Warner Bros.