By now, you've probably already witnessed the cinematic epicness that is Crazy Rich Asians. With an all-Asian cast, extravagant visuals, and easily endearing plot, this blockbuster hit is beyond the feel-good flick I was expecting. Yes, it might be a cliche Cinderella story where rich boy falls for a commoner and said commoner successfully gains the approval of an all powerful clan which results to the happily ever after we know all too well.
But while Nick Young and Rachel Chu's love story still captured my hopelessly romantic heart (tears and all, after Nick popped that million dollar engagement ring from his crazy rich mother as a sign of her approval,) another character won me over in the most empowering way in the form of Astrid Leong.
Astrid, played by actress Gemma Chan, is Nick's cousin who is every bit of the modern heroine I never knew I needed. Here's why:
1. She's oozing with sophistication.
With her impeccable style, Audrey Hepburn-esque poise, and all-around luxurious aura, Astrid is literally dripping in finesse. Aside from being impossibly posh, she's also fittingly smart (a top Oxford graduate) and philantrophy-oriented (a founding member of various charities,) sealing her high-society "it" girl status. Her first scene in the movie alone reminded me that there is no harm in being the best dressed woman in the room, and there is real power in making a commanding entrance wherever you go.
2. She's not an elitist.
On the surface, Astrid may come off as intimidating, considering that she practically is the crème de la crème of Singapore. But she's way beyond her glamour. Nick described her as down-to-earth and having the biggest heart out of all his cousins. In the film, Astrid was among the most welcoming ones to Rachel, showing that her sophistication doesn't equate to elitism. During the bachelorette party where Rachel was bullied, Astrid came to her rescue which proved that she's not like the other rich girls in her circle. Now, that's a #GirlsSupportGirls moment that surely got me fueled!
3. She's vulnerable.
While the other strong female characters in the story (i.e. Nick's mom, Eleanor Young) don't let emotions get the best of them, Astrid gives us glimpses of her vulnerable side. When she found out that her husband Michael was cheating on her, she opened up to Rachel, stripping herself of all that "it" girl facade and showing us that she's also human who feels broken like any of us.
4. She doesn't let a man drag her down.
If you're like me who's 100% done with men blaming their inadequacies to women, then that scene where Michael practically accused Astrid for not noticing his affair sooner probably enraged you. It is not our fault if men feel lesser than us, so when Astrid said, "It's not my job to make you feel like a man. I can't make you into something you're not," I, with my last string of patience left for the male species, truly felt that. I would have howled and thrown confetti inside the cinema if I could.
And while other women may choose to stay in a relationship for certain reasons despite being cheated on, Astrid straight up dumped him. That's right–we, women, are our own person and no relationship could ever define us. We will stand up on our own if need be, because, well, we can.
5. She picks herself up gracefully.
After discarding her below-average husband and his no-biggie penthouse apartment, Astrid was like a swan that turned into a phoenix right before my eyes. When she put those "self-coronation" earrings on, it felt like a personal triumph because, heck yes, I know I can survive anything, too, and rise up on my own terms. And that end credit scene where we saw her giving flirty eyes to a handsome eye candy? I knew for sure that Astrid has bigger things in store for her, ones that are worthy of the true queen that she is. It made me realize that cutting my losses and picking myself up will soon lead me to become the woman I'm always meant to be.
With her awe-inspiring multi-dimensional character, Astrid, as Rachel put it, is like the woman who I want to be when I grow up. Even without the million dollar jewels and high-society lifestyle, I hope I can be just as gracefully strong as my new-found life peg. Here's to elevating womanhood to new heights!
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