Most modern Romantic Comedies exist in a world of insane privilige. The characters are almost always flawlessly toned and beautiful, they live in enormous, beautifully furnished properties and often work vague jobs with flexible hours and a salary that inexplicably funds their lavish lifestyle. Crazy Rich Asians is a rare example of a Rom Com that turns extravagant wealth into a key feature of the film, rather than as an excuse for lazy writing.
In the film, the super-affluent Young family’s wealth is entirely explicable – they are part of Singapore’s moneyed elite, with a net value in the billions and a highly eligible young heir in the form of the photogenic Nick (Henry Golding). So when Nick, rather cruelly, enters into a long-term relationship with relative pauper Rachel Chu while staying in New York, she isn’t just forced to face standard Rom-Com hurdles such as misunderstandings and jealous exes – she needs to navigate through an entirely different culture, with its own unwritten rules and prejudices.
The second element that distinguishes Crazy Rich Asians from the Rom Com pack is the fact that it is a generously budgeted, English-language release that features an entirely asian cast. If there were any doubts about the market value of this approach, they were soon laid to rest when the film grossed more than $238 million at the box office, buoyed by strong reviews and the popularity of the source novel by Kevin Kwan.
On this week’s podcast, we’re joined by one of our favourite returning guests, Fin Ross Russell – last seen on our Moonrise Kingdom episode – and his lovely fiancé Mel. Together they guide us through a deep-dive on the cultural history of Singapore and how it’s reflected in this movie, while also helping us to break down some key plot points, including memorable fashion moments, the imperious brilliance of Michelle Yeoh and Awkwafina reliably stealing every scene she’s in.
Fin and Mel also join us in a round of drinking games, check in with our listeners for their reactions to the movie and help us to pitch some ideas for the long-delayed Crazy Rich Asians sequel. As with all our guests over the years, it was a pleasure to have them – be sure to check out Fin’s Podcast People show on all good podcatchers.
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Next week, we continue the wedding theme with my actual favourite film of all time. Will Harry agree? Let’s just say I’m nervous…