The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
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The Big Sick is funny but not laugh-out-loud hysterical, and it’s moving but not enough to bring you to tears.
It’s hard to know exactly how much of The Big Sick is true and how much is pure movie magic; but when the final product is so warm and fuzzy, who really cares?
We started hearing a lot of hype around this indie gem when it screened at Sundance earlier this year. The story comes straight from the hearts of real-life couple and scriptwriters Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, covering a period of time when they met and fell in love. What separates this from your typical mainstream rom-com are the complications that arose when Emily contracted a mysterious illness.
Nanjiani, who most will know and love from his role in the HBO series Silicon Valley, plays a loosely-based version of himself, while Emily is brought to life by Ruby Sparks’ Zoe Kazan. Their chemistry on-screen feels genuine, so even though the timeline within this film is never really established it’s not hard to accept that Kumail would become so invested in Emily’s health in what could be a relatively short time.
As the film’s writer, Nanjiani obviously recognises the emotional toll carried with each line of dialogue; however as an actor he sometimes struggles to portray said emotion. His comical timing and ability to carry that nerdy balance of awkward/confident is what makes him fun to watch; but he’s just not that convincing when it comes to showing sadness and anger.
While the opening act of ‘boy meets girl’ is cute, the film really finds its feet in the second act when we meet Emily’s parents, played brilliantly by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.
Their relationship with Kumail is where the heart of this film truly lies, with neither party actually wanting to bond but their good nature and a mutual love for Emily tying them together. The cultural differences between them are also where much of the film’s humour comes into play.
What the script does incredibly well is to give supporting characters (namely the families and Kumail’s comedy troupe) fulfilling arcs with a beginning and conclusion – however this is also the reason the run-time drags.
All in all, The Big Sick is funny but not laugh-out-loud hysterical, and it’s moving but not enough to bring you to tears. While exploring cultural differences in America makes this unique, it’s not executed in a way that surpasses shows such as Fresh Off The Boat or Master of None.