The Big Sick is the perfect pick me up for those of you that are heartbroken, lovelorn, or just feeling blue.
It might not appear as such on the face of it, as for large parts of the film, its characters have to deal with the prospect of a seismic tragedy. But all of this is handled with a care and deftness that is utterly charming and pulls you closer and closer in without ever overreaching. It is also hilarious and effecting. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that The Big Sick is easily the best rom-com of 2017, so far, and one of the most touching and daring in years, too.
It helps that The Big Sick is so sweet it should come with a diabetic warning, while the humor in Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon's script isn't just relentless, but is sprinkled with originality, especially as it takes an unashamedly modern stance on dating.
Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) also takes the lead role of Kumail, who lives in Chicago and hails from a traditional Pakistani Muslim family that is unaware he has stopped practicing the religion many years ago. Kumail's mother still invites a date for her son over to dinner every weekend, though, with the hope that the two will soon embark on an arranged marriage.
Away from his brother, sister-in-law, mother and father, Kumail works as an Uber driver, and is a budding stand-up comedian. After one of his sets, Kumail hits it off with Emily (Zoe Kazan), and the duo start dating. Several months in, though, Emily learns that Kumail hasn't, and won't tell his family about her, as well as the fact that he's still constantly being set-up on dates by his mother. They split up, but when Emily enters the hospital, and falls into a coma, Kumail decides to spend every day at her bedside, accompanied by her feuding parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter). But as Emily's condition gets worse, they soon have to deal with the very real threat that she won't wake up.
The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that the first names of the protagonist couple in The Big Sick are the exact same as the duo that wrote it. That's because it is unsurprisingly based on Kumali Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon's own courtship, and as such, the pair are able to imbue The Big Sick with minute and intimate details that, both, get right to the heart of the emotion of the film and find the humor in the situation, too. The main reason why The Big Sick is such a crowning achievement is down to the fact that Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon were able to create such well-rounded characters that immediately resonate, They then perfectly cast actors to play these excellent parts.
Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan shimmer together on-screen, and will instantly make you wish you and your partner were as adorable or make you believe that love really does exist. Ray Romano has never looked more shattered or been more compelling as the intent but flawed Terry, while Holly Hunter is, as per usual, majestic. It's the little things that allow Hunter to immediately bring Beth to life in such a vivid fashion. Either its how she looks and smiles at Emily in coma so painstakingly, or how she runs her hand over a lamp or smells a sweatshirt when she gets into her apartment. You can immediately picture her as Emily's mother, even though Holly Hunter and Zoe Kazan haven't ever shared a scene at that point.
Kumail's family is just as impressive, too, and are responsible for the funniest bits of the film. As Kumail's mother, father, and brother, respectively, Zenobia Shroff, Anupam Kher, and Adeel Akhtar create a potent family dynamic that we can all recognize, which primarily revolves around making sure that the matriarch of the family thinks that she's getting her way, but in reality the biggest secrets are kept away from her.
Thanks to the particulars and the meticulously voice of the script, each of the actors are able to guide and take you right into The Big Sick's most touching, tragic, heart-breaking, and tender moments, and you're always aware of just how well-controlled, thoughtful, and though out the film is. At the same time The Big Sick is genuinely laugh out loud funny, and carries a sweetness that's a little cool, a little dorky, while it has such a big heart that you're never close to find either attribute annoying.
The Big Sick also feels fresh and original because it uses modern trappings to approach timeless themes of family, love, relationships, work, and coming of age. This abundance of material could easily overwhelm the film, but instead director Michael Showalter makes sure to explore each of them in a coherent and patient manner, as well as from an angle that means you constantly engaged an on tenterhooks.
It makes The Big Sick such an all round, heart-warming delight that you can't help but fall in love with it. In a summer of sequels and blockbusters, The Big Sick is the antidote. Make sure you take it. You'll feel revitalized once you do.
By Dirk Libbey
By Mike Reyes
By Mike Reyes
By Dirk Libbey