The Big Sick is a very unique take on romantic comedies. It has all the necessary ingredients, part romance and part comedy, but with a serious undertone. Co-written with his wife Emily V Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani brings to the big screen his real-life meet-cute with the love of his life. With a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, deservedly praised, the drama that is infused within the film makes this a serious contender for Oscar nominations.
The film’s screenplay is loosely based on the real-life courtship of Kumail and his wife Emily. While the film isn’t perfect, there is a significant amount of respect and appreciation in the development process. For one, it’s an independent film, nearly washed away within the torrent of huge blockbuster movies, lead by popular superheroes. Second, here is a story you don’t hear or see that often. In fact, there hasn’t been a romantic comedy of this kind, relatable to the audience in a very long time.
The characters’ relationships and backgrounds are realistic, which makes the overall execution of the film digestible. We see the not-so-smooth transitions in an interracial relationship that many men and women face today. The culture clash and struggle to find oneself is a very difficult ride to take on. All of this, and other dynamics, are explored in the film brilliantly.
Nothing really trumps the actual story and how it is played out. However, the chemistry between the main actors makes for a wonderful display. It should be acknowledged how, almost in a nonchalant manner, Kumail plays the leading role. It may not be easy, but definitely an easier task when an actor implements real-life experiences into the character he has written. He is, essentially, playing himself in front of the camera. South Asians, especially those living abroad, can relate to the Pakistani-American (Kumail) we see on screen.
Zoe Kazan, who plays Emily in the film, is a proper compliment opposite Kumail. The latter went as far as to mention how frightening their chemistry was onscreen, reminding him of his wife on countless occasions. It’s authentic and incredibly real, discovering the love and friendship between two individuals. The additions of veteran actors Ray Romano and Holly Hunter (Emily’s parents) was a brilliant stroke. Their interactions with Kumail was heartfelt, organic and simply sweet.
Kumail’s stereotypical or traditional Pakistani family wasn’t insulting at all. It will make you cringe on how real the entire situation can be in a South Asian family. Anupam Kher as Azmat (Kumail’s father), Zenobia Shroff as Sharmeen (Kumail’s mother), Adeel Akhtar as Naveed (his brother), Shenaz Treasury as Fatima (his sister-in-law), along with all the life-partner prospects for Kumail played their roles to the T.
There are only a select few films in 2017 that should be in your must-watch list. The Big Sick is a highly-recommended film by not only critics but average moviegoers as well. This is a very well-written film, with a realistic take on interracial relationships and given dramatic obstacles. The humour is never forced. It’s developed and exchanged organically, almost as if there wasn’t a script to read off of. With a $5 million budget and grossing over $50 million worldwide, this will probably go down as one of the best romantic comedies ever made.