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USA 2017
Directed by
Michael Showalter
119 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Big Sick

Synopsis:  When Emily (Zoe Kazan) and Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) meet at a Chicago comedy club sparks fly. They start a relationship but Kumail conceals from her the expectations of his traditional Pakistani Muslim family that he marry within his culture. Adding pressure on him Emily suddenly becomes critically ill and he must decide with whom his allegiances lie.

Despite its unprepossessing title The Big Sick is a well-turned romantic comedy, a grown-up boy-meets-girl, boy-loses girl, boy-gets-girl-back story told with self-deprecatory good humour that features at its core the refreshingly unusual (for American film at least) concept of exploring the complications of an inter-racial relationship. If the comedic approach is its main impulse the film has enough purchase on real life to work for anyone wanting some substance with their laughs.

The real life aspect stems from the fact that it tell the true (no doubt give or take some artistic license) story of its writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. The couple have turned their experiences into a genuinely amusing serio-comedy that delivers plenty of, if not outright guffaws. then wry chuckles, carrying them seamlessly across the incongruities of a multi-cultural society and the impact of life’s arbitrariness as a serious illness besets Emily.  

If the gradually building relationship between Kumail and Emily is both poignant and funny, particularly so in the latter case as Kumail is a stand-up comic and a good deal of the story involves his fellow comics, we also get a droll ongoing skewering of Pakistani immigrant culture and, once Emily’s parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) arrive to look after their sick daughter, amusing banter from their chalk-and-cheese combination.

There’s not a lot to be said about The Big Sick which unfolds with genial sit-comish ease.  Although it tends to over-extend the will they/won’t they get back together aspect of the rom-com template, with a tidy script and all-round engaging performances it’s a film that is easy enough to like.




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