independent

Monday 17 December 2018

Chinese romcom a sweet and heartfelt tale of love across class divide

Film review: Crazy Rich Asians (12A), 7.5/10

Crazy Rich Asians delivers a full complement of uproarious laughter and tugged heartstrings
Crazy Rich Asians delivers a full complement of uproarious laughter and tugged heartstrings

If Richard Curtis transplanted one of his frothy romantic comedies full of beautiful, privileged people falling in love across the class divide to the Far East, the result would be strikingly similar to Crazy Rich Asians.

Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, Jon M Chu's crowd-pleasing confection relies on well-worn genre tropes and lovingly gift-wraps every luxurious frame in the splendour of modern-day Singapore.

Chu's film invests almost two hours showcasing the south-east Asian state's breath-taking beaches, spectacular high-rise hotels, designer boutiques and mouth-watering street food.

If the island wasn't already high on your list of dream holiday destinations, it will be before the end credits roll.

Scriptwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim don't stray from tried and tested rom-com conventions and they arm the good-looking all-Asian cast with some crisp one-liners including some standout barbs from Awkwafina, who was last seen stealing scenes and jewels in Ocean's eight.

The upbeat soundtrack seamlessly melds east and west with Chinese Mandarin cover versions of familiar hits including Money (That's What I Want), Madonna's Material Girl and Coldplay's anthem Yellow.

New York University lecturer Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) has been raised in America by her single mother Kerry (Tan Kheng Hua), who worries about her daughter's sense of cultural identity. 'I'm so Chinese, I'm an economics professor who's lactose intolerant,' jokingly retorts Rachel.

The tug of war between east and west intensifies when Rachel's boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) invites her to accompany him to Singapore to attend the wedding of good friends Colin (Chris Pang) and Araminta (Sonoya Mizuno).

Rachel is blissfully unaware that Nick is the golden boy of Singapore's wealthiest dynasty headed by ferocious matriarch Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), who expects her boy to take up the reins of the family business and marry into money.

Eleanor is deeply unimpressed with lowly academic Rachel as Nick's choice of partner and the mother makes clear her intent to remind her son of his responsibilities. 'When children are away from home too long they forget who they are,' she observes coldly.

Meanwhile, Rachel supports Nick's cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan) as her marriage fractures and the new arrival prepares for the wedding with a makeover courtesy of her fashion-conscious friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) and Nick's flamboyant second cousin Oliver (Nico Santos), who playfully describes himself as 'the rainbow sheep of the family'.

Crazy Rich Asians is a sweet and heartfelt frolic through the battlefields of love, which delivers a full complement of uproarious laughter and tugged heartstrings.

Wu and Golding, making his feature film debut, are a delightful on-screen pairing while Yeoh keeps her fiercely protective mother the right side of caricature.

A prologue set in a rain-drenched 1995 London is hard to swallow but the rest of director Chu's silky-smooth cocktail goes down a treat.

Wexford People

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