Back in 2018, you couldn’t go anywhere without people talking about this film. Okay, when I say anywhere” I actually mean social media but the fact remains. Not seeing this film when it came out did set me apart from popular opinion. So why didn’t I watch it? To be honest, I just had no interest. I’m not a fan of the whole romantic-comedy thing and this sounded like every other film about two star-crossed lovers. Of course, this one had the added benefit of giving some much needed Asian representation on film. Even though didn’t actually go as smoothly as it should have. Even when we take one step forwards there is always going to be someone who complains about something. As it’s coming up to Valentine’s Day, I decided that I really should watch something of this type and it’s been staring at me every time I search through Prime. It finally felt like the time to do it.
When a film calls itself Crazy Rich Asians, it definitely needs to deliver on certain promises. Well, it at least did that. It’s as though this film saw Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and said “I can do better than that”. There can be no denying that this is one decadent film. I lost count of the number of establishing shots of lavish buildings and cars. The expensive fashion and accessories that were on display. This is a film that is unashamed wealth-porn. It delights in showing off this world of money and affluence. It doesn’t hide the fact that there are issues with this world and the way people behave. However, it doesn’t actually develop this idea any further.
I know that this was always supposed to be a romantic-comedy, so the fairy tale ending makes sense. It just all feels massively superficial. There are hints that the film is going to take some sort of moral high ground and suggest that being rich isn’t all its cracked up to be. In the end? It decides that the moral high ground just isn’t as much fun and, instead, does what it’s meant to. It’s just one of the reasons that this film feels so old-fashioned. I can’t say that I found the basic plot that interesting and the setting really didn’t make any difference to anything. This film is about as superficial as they come.
Although, that’s not to suggest that there aren’t positives here. The film may be formulaic and unoriginal but it’s also not terrible. It didn’t exactly make me want to claw my eyes out. Then there is the undeniable fact that it highlights its Asian cast. There are some absolutely fantastic performances here and a fair few that deserve to be in better films. You can understand why so much of the praise surrounding this film was about how historic it was. I just wish there’d been less of the romantic-comedy elements and more of the rest.
Although, I do have to admit, this was a pretty good film to watch during lockdown. It was fun and super silly. It’s a major distraction from the awfulness of real life. I also agree with everyone that Awkwafina was a revelation. I just don’t think that I was ever really going to enjoy this film. It’s not a genre that I really care very much about. It’s also pretty obvious that someone went to an awful lot of trouble to make a traditional rom-com but with an Asian cast. It’s great for diversity but I’d have preferred that to be mixed with originality as well.