I read Crazy Rich Asians a few months ago in anticipation of the movie, because good rom-coms and Constance Wu are my jam. This may sound boorish, but I was left with the impression that the movie could be much better than the book. There’s a great story at the heart of Kevin Kwan’s soapy novel about the Asian immigrant experience, about the class system, and about a really terrific couple in Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu). There are some terrific characters in the novel, too, but the story often gets bogged down in the details, in interminable descriptions of food and handbags and decor. For me, anyway, it often killed the momentum of the story the same way, in a completely different genre, that Brett Easton Ellis’ unnecessary detours through the wardrobe of Patrick Bateman before he murdered his victims often did (but at least I had some ironic appreciation for that).
My hope for the Crazy Rich Asians movie is that it can present the opulence visually without digressing narratively, that it can streamline the story and maintain the focus on the fantastic characters played by an all Asian cast. The trailer certainly seems to suggest as much. The characters played by Wu, Golding, and Michelle Yeoh are exactly as I pictured them in the book, and Awkwafina’s Goh Peik Lin is an unexpected delight in the scene-stealing best friend role.
The movie, from director Jon M. Chu and screenwriter Pete Chiarelli, looks fantastic, and will be a much appreciated August break from three months of blockbuster spectacles.