As I mentioned before, I just moved, sort of a jump in feet first sort of situation. (You know, like most of my moves.) So, now where I’m unpacked enough to actually feel human, I’m out on foot wandering my new neighborhood, getting the lay of the land, seeing what there is to see. I’m delighted to tell you, my neighborhood, officially known as the Congress Park neighborhood of Denver, is delightful. On my wanderings, I have found tiny little independent businesses, a Korean BBQ (hello, Dae Gee!), a Thai rolled ice cream place (where I’m seriously considering allowing myself to hit if I get this post done), an independent bookstore, and an independent theater. Why should you care? Well. You’re a reader, so that shows you care a liiiiiiitle, right? But yes, there is a point to my rambling story.
Turns out, SIA Film Center was showing the movie Crazy Rich Asians. So, in the interest of supporting local businesses and, of course, the continued push of Asian culture, I went to see it! Let me tell you, the movie? Is DELIGHTFUL.
I’m sure if you’re reading this, the movie, if not already on your radar, probably already have plans to gather the besties and go out and see it. If you are aware and you do go see it, trust me, you won’t be disappointed. (Though you should probably wait to read this until you do.) If you aren’t aware of the story or the movie, the movie is based on a book by Kevin Kwan and tells the story of Rachel Chu and her boyfriend Nicholas Young. He invites her to Singapore for a wedding of a friend, not telling her that not only is he rich, he’s like the richest rich in all the land.
If you think this sounds just like a lot of the Kdramas we watch? You are nailing it right on the head. He’s the reluctant chaebol who falls in love with a normal, doesn’t tell her who he is, takes her back home where, not only does his mother hate her, but pretty much all of the fancy-pants society people hate her too, thinking her a gold digger who’s about to abscond with their most eligible bachelor.
What I really liked about this movie is just how strong Rachel is. She may have fallen into some of the usual tropes of a Kdrama heroine, but it wasn’t because she was weak, wanting to bow to everyone else’s wishes. No, this Rachel is strong, super smart, has worked hard to reach the position in society, and isn’t going to back down for anyone. She falls into those tropes simply because she doesn’t know the game that’s being played, the role she’s been cast into. Once she realizes what’s going on around her, she proves herself to be a capable player, even to the “Oh, there’s no way you’d ever be good enough for my son” mother.
Our hero, Nick, isn’t too bad either. Throughout the movie, it’s clear how much he loves Rachel. This is something he never wavers on. He can see what the others won’t, her smarts, her character, her ability to adapt and stand up for herself. He gives her a lot more credit than others do. The one downside to him though is pretty much the premise of the movie, the fact that he doesn’t give her a heads up into what she was walking into. This too, unfortunately, is a common Kdrama trope. He essentially throws her into the deep end. Yes, he fully expects her to float, but it’s an asshat move. He knew how this society worked, it wasn’t going to just change in the time he had been away. Love wasn’t going to make it magically easier for her, make them all back off, and yet, knowing that he didn’t give her any of the tools she needed to protect herself, to come out the winner.
Luckily for her though, she was indeed strong and smart and she didn’t need his help, managed to make her way through just fine, with some help from the usual movie trope, the gay helper bees.
I haven’t always been an Awkwafina fan, but she and her character in this drama were hilarious. I actually found myself looking forward to the times that she was onscreen. As this is a bit of a Cinderella drama, she is the tool the story uses to let Rachel in on just what she was getting into (you know, since the hero wouldn’t) and was used as the makeover fairy godmother not once, but twice in the movie. Good thing the heroine just happened to have a wacky old college roommate who just happened to be from Singapore and was just wealthy enough to help her…
Over the top coincidences another kdrama trope.
They did try to give the mother a bit of a side story which, would give insight into why she would act the way she did. Since she herself wasn’t considered the ‘right’ type of wife, she’d given up her son to his grandmother to raise so he would be considered the ‘right’ type of heir to the family. She didn’t think Rachel would be able to measure up, to change herself like she had to be able to make it in the family. If this is the idea, then her move at the end, after Rachel had walked away, proving herself the strongest player against the elder, makes more sense. Rachel won. She is the strongest. But I think this is still giving the character more credit than needed. It’s a fun romp, trying to redeem, making us try and feel for this character, at least in this short time span, isn’t really going to do much for the plot. However, it did give the idea the movie may have been trying to give of the power of family vs self, more of a stronghold. This powerful huge family is perhaps not as strong as a Chinese American woman brought up by a single mother with no other family ties.
It’s something to think about.
You leave the movie with a sense of they did it! They made it to the end! Bad people got theirs. Kind of. Rachel was accepted. Kind of. They’re going to live happily ever after. But are they? All of the issues they had started with are still there. He has a big responsibility coming, despite his willingness to give it up for her. She has a respected career and life in NY. Society is still going to think she’s an illegitimate gold digger. Will this end up changing them? Will they make it through or are they going to end up like his cousin? These questions aren’t answered, but really, I leave the theater not caring. The writers and actors made me buy these characters (or the character of Rachel) so much, something tells me she’s going to do exactly what she sets out to do.
Just like Nick said she would.
All in all, the movie was a lot of fun, with spectacular costumes and set design. The wedding they went back for? Yeah, that’s something to be experienced.
I sat there in the theater before the movie was even done thinking 1) I need to go to Singapore 2) I need to read this book. 3) I need to eat ALL the food they ate and 4) I can’t wait to see this movie again! So if you haven’t seen the movie? Do yourself a favor and go. And if you have seen the movie, let me know what you think!