Refreshing Romance: Our Review of ‘The Big Sick’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 30, 2017
Refreshing Romance: Our Review of ‘The Big Sick’

There are more than a handful of rare sights and sounds in The Big Sick, which in and of itself is entirely refreshing. What’s most important though, is how successfully all these elements come into play, turning what could be another generic romantic comedy into one of the most winning and genuinely feel-great stories of the year.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t some amount of heartache and despair. Based on the story of their courtship, writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon weave a tale about love and family, so earnest, so true to life, that it’s surprising and disappointing more stories like this aren’t allowed to be told.

Buoyed by producer Judd Apatow, The Big Sick stars Nanjiani, a Pakinstani Muslim comedian, as himself and as the romantic lead – not something we often see. What’s more, a woman is writing this, also something that isn’t allowed to happen to often. One such great female-penned rom com of recent memory is Ruby Sparks, that from the mind of Zoe Kazan. As it happens, she plays Emily in this story – the pair fall for each other, but soon Emily falls into a coma.

That’s after the pair break up. Kumail visits the hospital and meets Emily’s parents for the first time, all the while dealing with his own parents who insist, as his heritage dictates, that he marries a Pakistani woman under their arrangement. Kumail is also a comedian in Chicago trying to make it big.

So there is a lot going on, but director Michael Showwalter does well juggling the various threads, all which feel completely natural, even when tones and moods shift. It’s rather cliche to talk about flawed characters in film, because really everyone is flawed in some way. But here, Gordon and Nanjiani write characters who are uncertain, mistaken, vulnerable, brave, and a whole host of other gray-area emotions. While the film is about the journey of these two characters, it’s a messy and difficult one, and those around them aren’t simply pushed into the background.

Ray Romano and Holly Hunter give great performances as Emily’s parents, and the conversations between them and Kumail are among the funniest and sweetest bits of a film awash in humour and sentimentality. Even at two hours, and even knowing the outcome (hey, Emily and Kumail wrote the story together some ten years later ) the film stays compelling right through to the end. The Big Sick is simply a revelation, worth revisiting time and again, powered by sincerity and backed some exceedingly smart and funny people.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.