2018 has been known as the year of diversity in regards to Hollywood films. With the success of titles such as Love Simon, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman, receiving rave reviews on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and earning millions in the box office. It’s clear that Hollywood is now slowly transitioning to diverse storytelling using diverse cast and crew. So when the trailer for Crazy Rich Asians was shown in cinemas, I knew this was something I would be interested to watch as it’s a typical rom-com… but with Asian characters.
Crazy Rich Asians is a film adaptation of the novel written by Kevin Kwan, directed by Jon Chu, who also directed G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2. The film is centred around Rachel Chu who goes to Singapore to meet Nicholas Young’s family who are extremely wealthy and well-known in the country. From there, Rachel needs to try to impress his mother who thinks she isn’t worthy of being part of the family, as well as trying to understand or get used to Nicholas’ celebrity status.
As an Asian myself, I found this film very relatable in some degree as well as entertaining. I rarely see films and shows made in Hollywood that depict the Asian lifestyle in an accurate way as most of the time, the Asian characters are usually the sidekick or martial arts experts. The story and how the film is put together was able to depict an accurate picture of the contrast between two Asian lifestyles – the immigrant and the social elite.
Aside from the story, the use of both English and Cantonese in the dialogue makes the characters and the story more authentic. An example is when the grandmother is the only character that only speaks Cantonese, no English. Meanwhile, we see Rachel attempting to speak the language despite her being born and raised in America.
Some say that having a whole group of characters who are filthy rich and snobby makes the film unrelatable, but it’s the fantasy of being extremely rich in an Asian country that also appeals to audiences.
Following Rachel’s journey through this trip, audiences are able to relate to her more since they know what it’s like to be questioned by Asians who have been fully immersed in Asian cultures, in contrast to the first world lifestyle they’ve been raised in.
I asked a few of my classmates who are from an Asian descent if they’ve watched it or why they want to watch it and the common answer that I’ve received is that they want to support Asian characters and the community.
Alice Dong, a third-year communications student, said “It’s films like this that motivates aspiring Asian filmmakers to get more involved in the film industry, proving if films like this make big in the box office, there is a chance for more Asian representation on the big screen.”
Crazy Rich Asians may not be the first film to show authentic Asian representation but the story and characters in the film depict an accurate picture of the contrasting lifestyles of the different Asian lifestyles. A good teen/young adult film and well worth watching. Currently showing in cinemas across Sydney.
Author: Erielle Sudario