Film Review: The Big Sick

Generally, romantic comedies are the home of awkward moments. The two eventually-to-be lovers usually find themselves in strange circumstances that bring them together, or either of them is peculiar enough to bring on unusual conversations, and these put the ‘Com’ in ‘Rom-Com’. But there’s a difference between cringe-inducing awkward – something many movies in this genre have been falling into – and awkward because the situation is so difficult it’s hard to handle. Fortunately, the latter is something The Big Sick has beautifully captured.

Based on the true love story between lead star Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon, we’re first introduced to the couple with how they met up. After a lovably hilarious “honeymoon” period, difficulty arises when Kumail’s Pakistani background of arranged marriages cause Emily to have second thoughts about their future. After what is thought to be their break-up, Emily falls severely ill, and Kumail is the only person available to sign a form to allow her to fall into a medically induced coma. It’s here when the story takes a curious turn, as Kumail spends the majority of the movie getting to know Emily’s parents, both of whom know that they were supposed to have broken up. This brilliantly sets up a movie that brings the topic of family and its relationship with people’s love lives.

This is something that’s been missing all too much in romantic movies, and it’s what gives The Big Sick such delightful charm and deep emotional moments. It showcases how the difficulties of cross-culture love can destroy relationships between lovers and families alike. Couple that matter along with Kumail’s trials of winning Emily back through sickness and in health, and you have a movie that’s constantly throwing out scenes for viewers to be fully invested in. What brings it all together, of course, is the sparkling humour that had the cinema bursting with laughter, scene after scene. Each of the numerous characters had their own standout personality which made it engaging and hilarious to see how they get on with one another. You can tell a script is well thought-out when a scene has you tearing up at the same time as having impeccably timed comical lines.

It would be hard for Kumail Nanjiani to screw up playing himself, but he’s still a pleasure to watch on-screen with his varying reactions to the situations he finds himself in. Zoe Kazan’s representation of Emily is heart-warming, and you can clearly tell that they’re a couple that just ‘clicks.’ As fun as everyone was to watch on screen, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano’s role as Emily’s parents steal the show. Hunter’s stern and feisty attitude towards the world perfectly complements Romano’s caring and goofy personality, each fully exposed through Kumail’s hilarious interactions with the pair.

While I find it strange to be giving a rating to a couple’s love story, it’s still a story that was made to be told on the big screen. It’s expertly put together – bringing many larger-than-life issues that many other movies of the same genre would struggle to handle, with a large dollop of charming characters in awkward situations providing comic relief. Movies to come will find it hard to beat this superior level of awkwardness.

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