I went and saw this mega-hit with my friend and we agree it is wonderful. It’s akin to 2009’s The Proposal, but set in Singapore, with some complex musings on family and cultural value differences.
In this latest blockbuster, Rachel Chu follows her boyfriend Nick Young to Singapore for a wedding only to learn that “he’s the Prince William of Asia” and his family plays by unique rules. Let’s just start with the implausibly of dating someone for over a year and knowing nothing about their family, ignoring options like Google or Facebook.
While other Asian characters are often portrayed as passive, quiet, or shy (looking at you Lara Jean), Rachel Chu is outgoing and radiant, but also has the necessary strength to fight for love. Her lover Nick Young (played by gorgeous newbie Henry Golding) is the one who seems to lack a spine when it comes to owning his heritage, and he pretty much is ashamed of his family.
The main source of this shame is Nick’s mother Eleanor. She holds very traditional values and puts her family above all else, even passion and love. Nick refusing to inherit the family corporation sours Eleanor’s opinion of Rachel from the start, and the two are curt at best. Toward the end of the movie, Rachel and Eleanor play a symbolic game of mahjong, and there we see that Rachel truly does have the courage and elegance to join the formidable family.
Another reason Rachel is looked down on is that she was raised by an immigrant single mother. Never mind Rachel is the youngest economics professor at NYU, her family past is seen as shameful and scandalous. 🙄😡🙄😡 This plot line angered me to no end, but the character of Rachel’s mom is so well-done, and I wish we had seen more of her.
There are a few interesting side characters. My favorite is Nick’s cousin Astrid, married to a “commoner” named Michael. When Astrid learns Michael is having an affair, she keeps her composure and doesn’t let her personal issues upstage the wedding. But eventually there is a confrontation and it is quietly powerful and glorious. Another standout supporter is Peik Lin (nicknamed “Asian Ellen”) played by the hilarious Awkwafina. Awkwafina was clearly an underused actress in Ocean’s 8, but she shines in her comedic niche here. The other standout is Oliver. While he’s a total stereotype, the “rainbow sheep” clearly had fun in the role and adds a light air to a cold and reserved family.
Overall, 9/10 for intriguing concepts, overwhelming sets/costumes/beauty and great actos. -1 because Mrs. Chu was a bit robbed.