124 minutes – PG
By Cath Grimmett
“The Big Sick” is a deeply personal, hilarious and emotionally honest movie inspired by the lives and experiences of Kumail Nanjiani (a Pakistan-American comedian and actor) and Emily V. Gordon (an American grad student, and co-writer of this film).
Although well-known in the stand-up comedy circles and with a few film and televsion roles, this is Kumail’s first lead role; one in which he plays his authentic self.
The Big Sick opens with Kumail’s days as a struggling Chicago comedian – and Uber driver. Whilst we are privy to the backstage shenanigans of this comedian friends, and each is given time to ‘shine’ during the film, the comedy scene serves more as a charming backdrop of this film.
Kumail is performing one night when Emily (Zoe Kazan) heckles him good-naturedly. Kumail later approaches her at the bar, and they end the night at Kumail’s apartment and his double air-bed mattress.
They both become ‘overwhelmed’ with each, mutually acknowledging their deep feelings for each other.
However, whilst Emily is honest about her gothic high school years and havin an ex-husband, Kumail is not so candid when it comes to his strict Muslim clan, their expectations, and the continuous stream of eligible Pakistani women who “drop by” every family dinner, at the invitation of Kumail’s formidable mother.
Kumail is unable to tell his family he is dating a white, non-Muslim woman in fear of being exiled.
When Emily finds a box of photos of Pakistani women, she asks Kumail if he can imagine a scenario where he and Emily end up together? Kumail’s lack of conviction for a successful outcome to this culture-clash results with Emily ending the relationship.
Emily then contracts a mysterious infection, is hospitalised and put into a medically-induced coma. Kumail phones Emily’s parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) who arrive, and who are both aware of the heartache Kumail has caused Emily.
The movie then focuses on the intimate setting of Emily in hospital, of her care decisions, and the dynamics between Kumail and Emily’s parents, which encompasses moments of tension, comedy, and poignancy.
The Big Sick is an incredibly warm, emotionally-honest and delicious movie, which touches upon issues of racism, tradition, family loyalty, and both cultural and generational clashes.
Overwhelmingly, however, The Big Sick is a standout for its huge generosity of spirit and focus on human relationships.
Across the board audiences and reviewers alike are rating this around 4 out of 5.
I give it 3.5 stars.