Starring: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Chris Pang (Rated PG – 120 min).
Based on the best-selling globally revered novel from Kevin Kwan, this adaptation has all the right ingredients of young love, family tradition, unspoken riches and innocence of circumstance – perfectly rounded into a super romantic comedy featuring a truly wonderful all-Asian ensemble. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an economics Professor in New York, has been seeing gentleman Nick Young (Henry Golding) for around a year now and it is time to meet the the family in Singapore.
Nick has been keeping quiet to Rachel that he is the favourite child of an adoring strict old school mother and his entire Young clan are highly regarded business entrepreneurs all over the world and multi-millionaires. Heading over for a family wedding, it soon begins to unravel that Nick is a big deal and people begin to question Rachel’s intentions. Is she a gold digger while matriarch Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) believes she is not good enough for her son.
Overall story develops into a beautiful tale of culture steeped in tradition, I learned a lot watching this wonderful film. I also frequently cried in happiness. The wedding scene alone had me transfixed, a masterclass of cinematography, editing and music combining to squirt a flow of tears. You are not insulted by stereotypes, even when occasionally veering off into slapstick. Director Jon M. Chu excels.
Glorious locations of island paradises to extravagant city architecture to mansions of undeniable charm, it is a movie to dazzle the eyes and tug at the heart. Richly developed characters are joyous, one particular sleight of hand Mahjong game between Rachel and Eleanor proceeds to bring out the best in both of them.
We haven’t really seen a movie to this extent celebrating an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club (1993) that also starred Lisa Lu, who also appears here as Ah Ma (grandmother). Australia’s own Remy Hii and Chris Pang are significant
Constance Wu, lovely as Rachel, real and appropriate to her sudden environment. Henry Golding will win audience hearts just the way he looks at his true love. Former Bond girl and crouching tiger Michelle Yeoh, commands the screen without trying. Perfect chemistry by all.
Shane A. Bassett