‘Crazy Rich’ in the Details

In spite of problematic representation, it’s the small details in Crazy Rich Asians that will resonate with Chinese diaspora viewers

It is difficult to explain why a lighthearted romantic comedy, brimming with glamour and opulence, can bring tears to the eye.

Based on Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians is most notable for being the first major Hollywood movie in a quarter-century to star an all-Asian cast in a story about contemporary East Asians. Talented actors from across the Asian diaspora portray the story of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) extremely wealthy family, including his disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh).

The plot is nothing new—girl meets boy, boy’s family looks down on girl, girl fights to be accepted. What’s more interesting is how the conflict becomes a scaffolding with which to interrogate psychological rifts within the Chinese diaspora: Asian and Asian American, individual freedom and family harmony, new rich and old money, duty and happiness.

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‘Crazy Rich’ in the Details is a story from our issue, “The Masculinity Issue.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Tina Xu (徐盈盈)

Tina Xu is the former culture editor at The World of Chinese. She writes across film, literature, and society, spanning from indie documentaries to diaspora communities. Her stories for TWOC received the 2021 SOPA Award for Excellence in Regional Reporting on the Environment, and were finalists in Women’s Issues and Photography.

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