The Big Sick (2017) Review
There aren't many romantic comedies that include the female lead spending most of the film in a coma, the male's parents arraigning a marriage for him and a clash of cultures. "The Big Sick" has all of these ingredients and which all comes out flavorful with substance. Written by Kumail Nanjiani with his wife Emily V. Gordon, its based on their true life experience. Mr. Nanjiani also stars as the lead aptly named, Kumail.
This is a movie that blends a mixture of cultures. It adds not only to the drama of the film but also the enjoyment of it. The attempts at setting their son up with a wife is a duty Kumail's mother (Zenobia Shroff) doesn't take nonchalantly. These scenes play for comedic effect but the filmmakers also touch on how the process pierces the emotions and feelings of the players involved. The mastery of the filmmakers, Mr. Nanjiani, Ms. Gordon and the director Michael Showalter, is that they able to integrate strong melodramatic themes within their comedy while keeping the melodrama from weighing it down.
The prize of the film is Zoe Kazan who plays Emily Gardner, Kumail's love interest. She's such a pleasure to watch. She bounces from emotion to emotion with our emotions handcuffed to her. Ms. Kazan knows how to play sweet but when she's rejected her pain reverberates. Unfortunately her character's condition takes her away from the film for a good chunk of time that you get to wishing why couldn't it have been Kumail's character in the coma instead?
When Ms. Kazan is off screen we are compensated well with Holly Hunter who plays Emily's mother. A firecracker going to the rescue of her daughter, Ms. Hunter's Beth Gardner is a contradictive, well meaning mother who's thrown into an unexpected situation of which she was ill prepared for but whose mission to save her daughter is crystal clear . She is teamed up with Ray Romano who offers a complimentary contrast to her character. Together they juggle the health of their daughter under the shadow of a past affliction and the dilemma of what to do with the man her daughter rejected.
There are a lot of nuggets in this comedy and none would shine without Mr. Nanjiani. He's the glue that holds it altogether. And thankfully to since its his story. He is in a long line of stand up comedians who can flesh out characters on screen- Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Whoopie Goldberg- and since he's the emotional epicenter of the story it goes where Mr. Nanjiani goes. And it goes well. Mr. Nanjiani wrote himself a script where his character has to navigate the spectrum of emotions of which he covers. He moves flawless from jump starting his stand-up comedy career while carrying the scars of it lingering. His family's attempts of arraigning his marriage set up some great comedic pieces but he moves effortlessly when the failure of those meetings cause an emotional toll on the participants.
"The Big Sick" has alot in it. And its able to keep all those themes on a leash and work for the story being told. The cast and Mr. Showalter have done a fine job at making a story one would not be blamed at thinking was farfetched. The fact that it is a true story just adds to the joy this film brings.