the rich and crazy rich
There is something important you want to say. So, you choose a place to go, a place that’s open, public and yet, still intimate. You choose a place that fosters communication, a place that allows a moment to be shared between you and another. This place can make awkward moments less so and it can make memorable moments such, if executed properly.
“Crazy Rich Asians”, described as the American romantic comedy drama film by Jon M. Chu, based on the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan follows a Chinese American professor Rachel Chu and her journey to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young, who will be the best man in one of his best friends’ wedding.
Unbeknownst to Rachel, when she begins the trip, is that her boyfriend is rich, crazy rich. Progressively revealed through scenes that take the couple from America to Singapore she soon learns just how rich Nick and his family dynasty are. There’s first class service on the plane, a bachelorette party on a resort to visiting the actual home of the Young family. This is all buffered by the aid of a school friend, Peik Lin, who is worldly, fashion forward and historically knowledgeable of the Youngs’. She happily downloads Rachel on the Young’s history, heritage all while ensuring her friend doesn’t make a crash course of her stay.
Since its August 15th release “Crazy Rich Asians” has grossed over $165 million dollars, five times as much as its price tag to make: $30 million. A modern era romantic comedy full of Chinese culture, Asian traditions, cultural norms and marriage rituals, we the viewers are thrust into an albeit crazy world, if only for the fact that this side of contemporary, rich Asian culture has yet to be so vividly pictured on the cinematic screen in decades.
Chu attempts to close the divide between Singapore and America, literally and symbolically. Perhaps the beginning of his efforts begins in a place so public and known in America where the film begins that it is used to introduce the viewers to the couple, the two that drive a cultural plot all the way to not just Young’s best friends’ wedding but an engagement of their own. Perhaps we’ll more of that the now confirmed sequel.
So, this place, the one referenced at the start of this piece, where is it? It is the coffee shop, a storied place for the convening of humans. The coffee shop in cinema is an ecosystem of plot movement. Caffeine becomes like a character that can reveals situations and people through a shared cup of it. Historically coffee shops have given the culture a place for cute meets Meet Joe Black (1998); character progression La La Land (2016), first encounters with interests of the heart LadyBird (2017), an advancer of plot for the ultimate romantic comedy, Notting Hill (1999).
And so, it is here in “Crazy Rich Asians” among teal blue ceramics and a third wave specialty coffee machine that the world meets Rachel and Nick and learn of their upcoming continental adventure.
While on this adventure, Nico Santos who plays Oliver, second cousin to Nick and self-proclaimed “rainbow sheep of the family” helps Chu to be transform into a belle for the family dinner. Upon doing so he orders a round of cappuccino’s – perhaps this culture’s most comforting and accessible drink ever. Caffeine powers the cast of helpers create an iconic entrance and impression for the girlfriend of the man whose family is reluctant to accept her.
While there is a happy ending here, this culture notes that the beginning was just as merry, iconic even. To situate a story of two cultures into a universal place allows the world that Chu wants his audience to get lost in and believe identifiable, real and safe. This is coffee culture and I love it and so does the bank.