Directed by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians flaunts the extravagant lives of Asian elites and the ongoing battle between heritage and cultural assimilation. Set in Singapore, the comedy centers around Asian aristocracy and Asian-American ideals. Lead heroine and NYU economics professor Rachel Chu (portrayed by Constance Wu) finds herself caught in the midst of an all-out Asian socialite war because she is unwittingly dating “Asia’s most eligible bachelor,” Nick Young. An Asian-American, Rachel immediately discovers the distaste amongst Nick’s traditional family for her lack of cultural roots. This struggle in finding a balance between her Asian heritage and her American ties is not uncommon for first-generation Americans. In fact, the movie perfectly captures the reality of cultural isolation through its comedic and melodramatic plot. Crazy Rich Asians possesses the qualities of a comedy while also highlighting appreciation for one’s culture. With a witty and charismatic protagonist like Chu, the movie delivers a quality story on a theme relatable not just to the crazy rich, but to everyone.
Although the novel-turned-movie hyperbolizes Asian culture’s flamboyant attire, posh etiquette, and stress on social status, the struggle of cultural identity continues to be a prevalent battle in Asian-American communities today. The comedic movie depicts Chu as a figure who represents the ongoing journey in realizing one’s Asian ethnicity and American ideals—a struggle many first-generation millennials often face. In the movie, Nick’s domineering mom, Eleanor Young, demeans Chu, emphasizing that “[she] will never be good enough,” and claiming that American culture disrespects the traditional family values which so often hold a primal role in Asian heritage. This poignant remark reveals the main issue of the film: self-acceptance. With her confidence as a self-made American, she is permitted to wed her long time boyfriend, Nick. By the end of the movie, Rachel Chu has finally learned the value of self-worth.
Annette Nguyen is a sophomore studying international business and journalism.