Grossly materialistic and over the top? Well yes, but I think that point was a bit mistaken by some of the film’s detractors given the intention was creating something all about froth and bubble on the surface. While it’s a story about old and new money in Singapore and the prevalence of conspicuous consumption (tasteful and otherwise) in the movie Crazy Rich Asians (based on the book by Kevin Kwan) I really enjoyed its underlying, and universal, themes of family, love, duty, class, the transformative power of education and the importance of personal integrity, identity and self-worth. Class to me is not a question of birth but of personal values, and how these are demonstrated in different ways by different people. Money doesn’t buy class, nor does it buy taste or style as I’ve previously said on this blog. My sisters and I had a great time at the Kino Cinema (where the recent Persian Film Festival has been on) watching the movie yesterday and there was more pathos and depth to something that initially presents itself as being more light-hearted and lightweight.
We’d caught up earlier in Chinatown at Shark Fin House for a quick yum cha where my Uncle George’s restaurant Golden Orchids can also be found in Little Bourke Street (pictured below on a somewhat dreary Sunday afternoon). After decades of working in hospitality, my uncle has decided to finally retire and his restaurant will close at the end of the month signifying the end of an era. Like much of the street, the old guard of Cantonese Chinese are making way for the new Mandarin-speaking northern Chinese and their dumplings.
But back to the movie, it was surprisingly emotional and there is a pivotal, and powerful scene, near the end that centres around a strategic game of mahjong, another thing that reminds me of Uncle George as his late wife, my Aunty Faye, would play most weeks at their house and my sisters, cousins and I would marvel at how fast, and noisy, the game was. I won’t spoil the ending but it’s also been lovely to see how many of my non-Asian friends have loved the movie as well.
The Italian Film Festival is about to start at Palace Cinemas this Thursday and if you’re looking for an Asian meal experience locally, Eltham Bookshop still had some tickets available for a special Adam Liaw Destination Flavour Literary Dinner also taking place this Thursday night at Noble House Chinese Restaurant.