In Crazy Rich Asians, the Warner Bros.’ film based on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling book, Constance Wu plays Rachel, a highly intelligent economics professor at New York University who accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to his friend’s high society wedding in Singapore. While they’re there, Rachel discovers that Nick’s family is actually a huge financial player, and uncovers secrets about her own family’s past that she never imagined. Faced with running or taking a stand amidst scandal, derision, and a mother lode of new information, Rachel has to decide who she is and who she will be.
While the film takes much of its social and cultural cues from the culture in Singapore, this is a Cinderella story. There’s a rich guy, a poor girl, and the potential for love, but there’s also a significant amount of possible disaster that has nothing to do with magical godmothers or mice. Relationships are tricky, but in the case of Rachel and Nick, past hurts and present wealth have a strong, unpleasant impact on what could be love. Nick’s family isn’t big on Rachel and Rachel’s family’s history undercuts her own ideas about herself.
Kwan’s story isn’t new, but the context lends itself to some funny moments, and some nuanced issues. While not everyone will discover (or discovered) that their boyfriend or girlfriend is actually super wealthy, there are enough secrets (intended or not) that come up in the midst of relationships to make us all stop and think. Finances can be a real dealbreaker for dating couples and newlyweds, because of the enormous possibilities (or lack of them); families are often a detriment to a couple’s happiness. As in every relationship, the outcome will be determined by who Rachel and Nick decide they are, and what they believe their relationship can be.