The Big Sick – Movie Review

How many films this summer are the result of putting the early days of your relationship up on the big screen? The Big Sick dares to be different by doing just that.

So, is it any good?

The Big Sick is loosely based on the true story of co-writers (and real life husband and wife) Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. Kumail (playing himself) is a struggling stand up who meets Emily (Zoe Kazan). The two strike up a  romance but struggle to overcome the challenges of Kumail’s cultural background and his families expectations around arranged marriage. Everything is put into perspective when Emily is struck down by a virus and placed in a coma. With Emily in the coma, Kumail bonds with Emily’s parents (Holly Hunter & Ray Romano), whilst coming to terms with the expectations of his own parents.

The Big Sick is one of the best romantic comedies in years, and let me emphasise the comedy here – this is a very funny movie. But ultimately, the romance element bookends a film about cultural challenges, the power of family and ultimately coming to terms with your own identity. This is an incredibly layered film, with director Michael Showalter, along with Nanjiani and Gordon bringing together so many elements together amazingly. While the events of the film are surely not 100% accurate, its still amazing to see how a true couples story, filled with ups and downs, has be brought to the big screen. It’s quite a feat to be able to put so much of your past up there on the screen to ultimately be judged by an audience, but the gamble pays off, as the film has real heart and will connect with audiences, young and old.

Kumail, known for his work in Silicon Valley and various bit parts over the last few years or truly comes into his own here as a leading man. He is, of course, hilarious as we’ve come to expect, but the true surprise is watching him pull of a fairly emotional performance. He carries the film effortlessly. Zoe Kazan brings a real spark to Emily, it’s a shame she spends a chunk of the film in a coma. Thankfully, Romano and Hunter are there to fill the void. Hunter brings a lot of dramatic presence to her character and I enjoyed her arc, from ignoring Kumail to embracing his commitment to their daughter. Romano was a big surprise for me. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen him on screens and I’d forgotten how funny he could be.

There’s a certain expectation you have when you see ‘Apatow Productions‘ in front of a flick, but I felt The Big Sick kind of broke the mold. Sure, The stand up comedy backdrop and the big laughs are all here, but it’s the insights into Pakistani culture, arranged marriage and the expectations of being a “good Muslim” that truly were eye opening. I love films where they can balance the comedy whilst wearing their heart on their sleeve, and this film embraces that.

After a summer of superheros, talking apes, and drivers named Baby, The Big Sick is a welcome change of pace. This is a comedy where you’ll both laugh out loud, and feel for these characters. On top of all that, this is a film we should support. Its rare for anybody to take a chance and put their lives up on the screen, so credit where credits due. The Big Sick is a big win for all involved. Take your friends. Take your parents. Take your loved ones. This is one of the years best.

The Big Sick hits Australian cinemas on 3rd August.