Yesterday evening, we went to the movies. Not exactly news, because a) we go to the movies a lot, b) why would you care? What was interesting, though, is that we went to watch Crazy rich Asians, the first Hollywood movie with an all-Asian cast in decades — which also became one of the biggest box office hits of the year. And no superheroes were involved.
Interestingly, despite all the overseas success, it was not showing at our local movie theater, but only at the larger one in the center of town (one that has 30+ halls: every movie is shown there). I guess the English-speaking Asian community is somewhat less populous in Paris than in LA: who knew? Still, once we were inside the (fairly large) room, we whites were in a minority (for a change) — and you could tell the people sitting there were pretty rabid to watch a film with Asian actors across the board, kind of like the same way I was excited to watch my music icon portrayed on stage.
The movie is a classically told romance comedy centered around the heir of a Singaporean real estate empire bringing his New York girlfriend home — who knows nothing of his family background, or wealth. What ensues is your typical back and forth between sweet and sour moments for the couple, with one notable difference: all of this takes place against the incredibly luxurious backdrop of the Singapore elite, with lots of money, very shiny cars, watches and buildings, complete with Victorian-type legacy concerns. Indeed, this is not the nouveau riche cast: all protagonists (minus the girlfriend) come from old money, and they’ll fight to the death to keep it.
What ensues is a bubbly mix of slightly formulaic story lines (money vs love, poor vs rich, secrets vs truth…) combined with new settings — to Western audiences — filled with breathtaking views of the Singapore skyline, impossibly glamorous young men and women living life like there’s no tomorrow. What is truly refreshing about Crazy rich Asians, which we haven’t seen in Western cinema in quite a while, is hope: the film is infused with that optimistic vibe that used to be the fabric of US movies until a decade ago, when the 2008 crisis seemed to shake that once indestructible you-can-do-it spirit.
Apparently, not everyone has gone depressed since the crisis, though. If you wanna remember what worry-free fun feels like, check out Crazy rich Asians!