Crazy Rich Asians – contains movie spoilers

Sang and I watched Crazy Rich Asians this weekend. Spoilers for the film below; I haven’t read the book.

The main impression the film left on me was how passive or absent the men were, and how it was the women wielding power and playing politics. I mean, Nick is such a cipher! Rachel’s a professor in the U.S., so even if she’s a new-ish adjunct she’s of an age to have a Ph.D. Nick maybe went to college and grad school in the U.S., and then…? does he have a…job? or…interests? I think he and Rachel were dating for a year, so what did they talk about if she’s got no idea of his family background? Gotta say, between his lack of a life and his unwillingness to stand up to anyone, Nick is not looking like a great prospect.

When they get to Singapore, Nick’s grandmother is on scene, but no grandfather. His father is…away on business for this whole thing? Part of the plot turns on Rachel’s father’s absence from her life. Astrid’s husband is emotionally absent and having a non-specific affair. Nick has one supportive guy friend among the wastrels; they have to flee friend’s own bachelor party to be able to have a conversation in peace. The plot is driven by Eleanor vs. Rachel with assists by Peik Lin, Astrid, and Su Yi.

Rachel is presented as the romantic, individualistic down-to-earth American. But I don’t think it’s an accident that she’s a professor of economics. The movie passes pleasantly with makeovers and wealth-flaunting parties. (To be honest, the biggest impression the wealth made on me was that Rachel and Nick arrived in Singapore well-rested and ready for several hours of partying. The rest of the spectacle– having a mega-party on a container ship instead of, say, a cruise ship that is literally designed for that? Having a wedding in which the aisle is flooded so pretty lights are reflected but also the bridal party is wading ankle-deep? –eh, I guess wealth brings pressure for novelty.) But when it comes down to it, Rachel literally turns down Nick’s ring and accepts Eleanor’s. Game is on! It doesn’t matter that Nick has been secretive and passive; he can go right on doing that or whatever (while looking hot), cause Rachel’s found her match and is gonna play with the big girls. I see her in a faculty position at YaleNUS during the sequel, getting ready for some competitively non-competitive child-raising–although they’ll still be socializing with all the tedious friends because they’re part of the playing field too. This movie is about what wealth means for women’s power, and I think Jane Austen would watch it with interest.

(I gather, from the Wikipedia articles about the book series, that Kevin Kwan does not share my vision.)

2 Comments

  1. Nicole Maki February 28, 2019

    OMG! You and I had the same take aways from the movie. I thought it was so refreshing to see the women all have fleshed out characters and plot and the guys to be the cardboard arm candy. Nick brings very little to the table. I think trophy husband is about as good as he’s going to get. He does have very nice abs but can she talk to him? And he’s dumb as a post if he didn’t think he needed to prepare her for the family politics she was getting into.

    Astrid’s husband (in the book) is faking an affair to see if she even cares. He’s so insecure. But when Harry Shum Jr. showed up in the cut scene I actually screamed in the theater and everyone clapped. He’s one of my favorite actors and he’s the main dude in the 2nd movie. Basically him and Astrid have always had a thing for each other but the timing has been wrong. He LOVES how strong and formidable she is. He just broke up with his wife/fiancee and she’s out with her husband so… I think Astrid (Gemma Chan) is one of the prettiest women on earth. She used to be a runway model.

    One thing I loved about the movie (and I did seriously LOVE the movie) is that all the fashion is from the NY and Paris Fashion Week(s) so the clothes in it were not so new they weren’t available for retail yet. And they used fashion in some powerful character building ways. The green blouse Eleanor wears when she is so mean to Rachel is a famous DVF top that is meant to be worn when you’re the boss and are putting someone in their place. And they had the new money (Peik Lin and fam) wear Gucci and Prada which is always the slam against those brands. You see a lot of rich college kids and rappers (think Migos) wearing the clothes shown. Also, the Missoni dress Rachel wears to meet everyone – Shelby (Brayden’s ex) wore that on the runway. And did you know Michelle Yeoh wore all her own jewelry? Her jewelry collection is world famous.

    I’d love to see your version of the sequel. It would kick ass :)

    • Holly February 28, 2019

      Oh, wow! I’m so glad I posted about this movie because I keep finding out neat stuff. And I was meh on reading the book, but now I really want to. Especially to meet Book Astrid!

      The fashion stuff went completely over my head and I love knowing that about the New Money brands! And aaaaa, how cool that Shelby wore that dress. I had read that Eleanor’s ring was something else until Michelle Yeoh replaced it with her own emerald ring, but I didn’t know all the jewelry was hers. She’s so amazing; we’re loving her in Star Trek Discovery too.

      A Dreamwidth friend pointed me toward this post about the mahjong game at the end. That had also gone over my head— I thought Rachel outright won, but it was better than that!

      Let’s compare book notes once I’ve read it. :) :)

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