I’ve spent the past few days thinking about my viewing of “Crazy Rich Asians”. I quite enjoyed it, although it wasn’t a perfect movie. There were some characters that lacked development, for example, but I was able to get over that pretty quickly. If anything, because of the major milestone it has with representation.
But, I’m not here to talk about that since I’ll let those voices share their stories and why this is important to them. (incidentally, if you want to read a great article about the mahjong scene, check this out:
What stood out to me were the strong female characters. And I’m not talking about 1 or 2. I’m talking about 5+ strong female characters that all get their stories told. Let’s visit a few of them, shall we?
The film opens with Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) fighting for her right to be in a hotel. She has small children around her, doing her best to be the head of the family while also standing up for her rights. This strength is seen throughout the film, especially as she feels it her duty to stand up for who her son should marry. Whether you agree with her morals and tactics is a whole other conversation. The point is she knows what she wants and she fights for it.
Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), poo-poo-ca-chu, doesn’t need a man. Sure, she loves Nick (Henry Golding) but she also knows she doesn’t need him. In fact, she gives him up for his happiness and is very okay to live a life without him. She’s proud to be a professor and is more than ready to head back to New York to continue her life in that way.
Kerry Chu (Tan Kheng Hua), we find out, left an abusive marriage, moving to New York City to create a better life for her young daughter, Rachel. She even gave up the man she truly loved to save Rachel. And, I found the moment at the end of the mahjong scene beautiful when we don’t realize Kerry is there. But she is, for her daughter. Not because her daughter needs her there but she wants to be there for her daughter.
Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. The fact that she has multiple outfits in her car for any given occasion shows she knows exactly what she wants. And, she does it.
And, one more character to discuss for now: Astrid (Gemma Chan).
I’d say she was the character I found I rooted for the most. I haven’t read the book but in researching her character it sounds like her arc varies from the movie. And, I would say that her character is one of the least developed characters in the movie. But, I still rooted for her. From the beginning, she’s trying to find her place. She is a part of this opulent family with lots of money yet wants to fit in with her husband by hiding her purchases. But, it’s clear that she enjoys shopping. She has a huge struggle and it continues through the end.
I found it very beautiful when her husband gets out of the car on the way to the wedding and she then goes without him. I didn’t find she went because of shame, but because she desired to go. And, it’s clear she had huge examples in her life of other strong women, including that of her grandmother. Her grandmother was her date at the end, not her husband. She went as a powerful woman standing next to another powerful woman.
There are themes about tradition vs modern life, family cultures vs social cultures, etc. But, no matter if the character is following the long-held traditions or if they are embracing the modern culture, these women are all strong. They know what they want and the fight to get it.