Today we have a special two-for-one review: Crazy Rich Asians movie and book
(I did something silly…I watched the movie AND the book almost simultaneously. There may be some spoilers as I compare the book and movie. They follow fairly closely for the most part. The biggest difference is in the end and with another main character. The other difference was that the book went into more detail about side stories of other important/supportive characters.)
The book/movie follows a couple of young New York professors. Rachel Chu and Nick Young.
Rachel has ALWAYS been a self made modern American woman who was raised by a single mother of Asian descent who was also equally motivated to make it on her own. Rachel never knew her father. Rachel is NOT a gold digger setting her sights on marriage. She is madly in love with her boyfriend Nick Young who is equally motivated to make it on his own. She chooses to go to Singapore with him to his best friend’s wedding and to travel around Asia for the summer. At this point, she is TRULY unaware of Nick’s family. (Although being from one of the richest families in Singapore, and from some of the older lineages, Nick was brought up not to discuss money.) When she was going to school, Rachel had met Pekin Lin who would be her eccentric friend who would give her lavish gifts on occasion. Rachel was to also look her up when she went on her summer holiday.
Astrid Leong, Nick’s fashionista cousin is also a friendly acquaintance of Rachel’s in America. Before the couple sets off for Singapore Astrid warns Nick to prepare Rachel for what she is getting into. Due to stringent customs and appearances alone to Singapore families, going there as an unmarried couple, lack of Rachel’s known heritage/background, and concerns over money, there may be unseen complications for the couple. Nick doesn’t seem bothered because even though he loves Rachel and thinks marriage COULD be down the road, he acts as if it’s not a problem and that he and Rachel can get by on the strength of their relationship.
Little does Rachel realize is how “Crazy Rich” these Asians really are!!! She wasn’t even aware how wealthy Nick’s family was because she never cared. She was NOT prepared!!! This lends itself to strife between the couple throughout.
Nick’s best friend is Colin Khoo, one of the wealthiest bachelors in Singapore who is marrying an Asian fashion model. It is the wedding of the year, so media focus is on everyone in the wedding party including the best man, Nick.
Rachel continues through the summer meeting Nick’s family and friends…some more accepting than others. Nick’s mom (Eleanor Young) and his elderly grandmother are convinced that Nick is dating someone who is beneath him and are hoping it is not serious. But they fear it could be.
Nick is very much in love with Rachel, but will he eventually propose knowing of all the potential obstacles in his way? Will their love be able to handle the stress?
I enjoyed the book. Kevin Kwan’s descriptions of the homes, the heritage lines of the main families listed in the book, and things that could be purchased with the money these people had, gave the reader perspective as to how these people thought and lived. The reader almost feels sorry for the way money can have a negative impact on these characters lives…ALMOST!
It seemed to the elder rich Asians that exuberant wealth was a sense of pride, not something discussed as much, and sent down to the family. (Case in point, on holiday Eleanor Young along with a young Nick, Astrid, and Eddie are snubbed at an UBER-chic hotel by a racist manager and Eleanor, being humiliated, has her husband make a call to buy the hotel and fires the rude manager.) Whereas with the younger heirs, money was something that they flashed and bragged about more. BUT it is also extremely important as to a person’s lineage and how one appeared in public with the elder Asians, not so much with the younger ones.
(In fact, one of Nick’s cousins is in love with an Asian soap opera star who is a little on the “trashy side” and is less acceptable than Rachel and the family IMMEDIATELY tries to break them up. Though it is obvious that this character IS a gold digger.) It is sad…in America, Rachel’s position was truly commendable and respected but in Singapore she was “nothing” to the family because of her heritage/lineage.
Other character stories are woven into the first book of this trilogy. (In the movie it was as well but not as detailed.) Astrid, Nick’s BEAUTIFUL cousin, is also having relationship problems with her husband Michael. He is less wealthy but he is determined to raise the family on HIS income. Astrid lets him because she is truly in love with him. He is also aware of her wealth because she travels to Paris on a regular basis and makes LARGE EXPENSIVE purchases But she hides them knowing how he feels about her money and her family. These details threaten their marriage and Michael’s manhood and he looks outside their marriage for comfort and support! But, does he have an affair? In the movie it seems the answer is “YES” and Astrid leaves him. In the book Michal pretends to have an affair (and Astrid finds this out with the help of an ex paying for a private investigator), but he loves Astrid and their child too much to TECHNICALLY do it. She runs into an ex rich boyfriend who still has feelings for her and once he finds out how much Astrid loves her husband, he helps Michael’s company out, unbeknownst to Michael, to boost the struggling marriage…however, in either case I see another book/movie being done about Astrid and her former flame. I just don’t see Michael being in the picture too long in either scenario. He is way too insecure, I feel, for Astrid. In the movie, there is a glimpse of a man, which I assume is her ex. That lends itself to a possible future rekindling.)
The movie and book follow ALMOST equally. The end of the movie is DEFINITELY more upbeat whereas the book ends on a more hopeful but probably more of a realistic note.
All in all I will look up some of the other books in this trilogy. I feel that the reader will become vested enough in these characters to also show interest as much as I have.
Book by Kevin Kwan
Movie (2018) directed by Jon M. Chu
Starring: Contance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Review by Julie C.