Much has been said about the refreshing sight of an all-Asian mainstream Hollywood comedy, although of course, Asian to us in the UK, usually means Indian sub-continent, and that’s still not happened.
The US writers mean Chinese, although most of the action here takes place in Singapore, with nods to Shanghai and Taiwan, as well as New York. It’s a knockabout rom com, a sort of Chinese Four Weddings and A Funeral, or a far glitzier update of Ang Lee’s early comedies like Eat Drink Man Woman and The Wedding Banquet.
A handsome man, Nick Young (Henry Golding), whisks his New York college professor girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding, and to meet his family who, she finds out slowly, are some of the richest people in Asia.
Rachel has to face the bitchy ex-girlfriends of Singapores most eligible bachelor, as well as his fearsome mother (Michelle Yeoh). He has to put up with the whispers and threat of being cut off from his family for marrying a ‘commoner’.
It’s like a British period drama, dripping with gold and costume finery, only it’s set now, in the arid, gleaming glitz of Singapore and its blinging, crazy wealth. There’s a bit of Dallas here, but there’s an infectious New World confidence here too, and sense of easy new imperialism – but it all looks very good, very stylish and if often funny as well as touching, with all the dumpling making and Mah-Jong you could want alongside Rolls Royces, luxury spas, palatial gold homes and a panging sense of identity – English accents and boarding schools, American business degrees and Chinese loyalties.