THE BIG SICK
The romantic comedic film “THE BIG SICK” tells the true story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail Nanjiani (also actor, writer, podcast host and for being a main cast member on HBO's Emmy Award-nominated series Silicon Valley) and his real-life courtship with his now wife Emily V. Gordon
Their highly personal and intimate story begins in Chicago where Kumail is working in a local comedy club for his nightly 5 minutes of doing standup material when on a totally chance connection he hears a woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan) from the audience let out a “whoop” sound to one of his jokes.
After his set is over Kumail goes into the audience to chat with Emily mostly out of curiosity to ask why she responded the way she did to his joke. What occurs that evening is an obvious flirting connection between the two that they both thought would be nothing more than them having just a one-night stand “hook up”. However, they both soon realize that there is more to their interest in each other than sex with the blossoming of a meaningful real romantic relationship, which complicates matters even further for Kumail’s life as it is expected by his very traditional Muslim parents for him to meet and marry only a Pakistani woman through an “arrange marriage”.
When Emily is suddenly beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents he has never met, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his demanding Muslim family and his equally longing heart for what he believes is the woman he is really in love with.
REVIEW: “The Big Sick” is a very charming, appropriately funny and contemporarily smart modern film that effectively explores how this generation of millennial Americans seemly navigate better their personal, emotional and intimate needs than their parent’s generation. Meaning? On the surface of things in Kumail and Emily case they never seem to be bogged down initially with the long standing traditional calculations of what constitutes a ”good marriage” predicated on the filtered traditional concerns (needs) of one’s personal wealth, education, race, and religious ethnicity. From the intimate onset of their story Kumail and Emily simply loved each other and in that respect this was one of the more pleasing undertones to their story.
But what was rather strange for me as a viewer of their story overall was how I found the base interactions between Kuamail and Emily the least compelling and least interesting aspects to the movie itself. Their romance seemed more to be an exercise of how to “chug along” into falling in love than what one might normally associated or expect in a romantic tale. They seemed to be more of an auto pilot couple reading a script to saying “they loved each other” rather than showing grounded believable affections for one another.
Truth be told if you see this film (and I encourage you to) you will root for this young couple to be together as I did. But as the films was directed and written, I actually found the chemistry and interact between Kumail and his Pakistani family and Kumail and Emily’s family the far more compelling, vibrant and colorful aspects to the story. In a way, the movie kind of dragged when Emily and Kumail were talking with each other and more hilarious, hearth breaking and interesting when she was in a coma, with Kumail left to dealing with the weighty complexities of his emotions all on his own with his family, his friends and his potential in laws.
Still, “The Big Sick” is a wonderful honest and graceful film that smoothly and patiently tells its earnest modern love story through the laden filter of the anxieties of a young man being in a hospital dealing with his girlfriend’s life threatening illness and the equally intense juxtaposition burden of him dealing with the competing cultural differences of the respective parents involved. With each passing 30 minutes of the films 2 hours running time, I grew fonder and more touched both by the film itself and especially for Kumail’s affections for Emily, as well as his desires to reconciling his own deep seeded needs to just following his own heart along the way.
“The Big Sick” is a small budget quiet little film that makes a bit by bit by bit trajectory touching impact without ever being formulaic with its use of humor, heartbreak, honesty, sophistication, romance and wit. And with a conclusion you already know going into the theater (yes, the get married - see first paragraph above), the question that will come to your mind is still one of the great mysteries of the universe. While having to enduring endless personal obstacles and deep emotional pain why do people still manage to simply fall in love with one another?
For one brief two hour moment in a theater “The Big Sick” I believe will help you answer that.