Review: Love is a many-splendored thing again in The Big Sick, a highly relatable rom-com about multi-cultural relationship inspired by real-life story of its writers—Pakistani-American comedian, Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), and his wife, Emily V. Gordon.
This Judd Apatow-produced delight package grounds closely to reality and is utterly apprehensible in presenting a witty, sweet story. Some of the aspects are more digestible (also debatable) for people of Eastern culture than those of Western; but it’s never alienating. After all, this is a warm and honest cross-culture romance that attempts to bridge the differences. In short, it’s the kind of old loving-you-loving-your-family love story, which works in the heart of ‘modernity.’
At the center of The Big Sick, there’s a meet-cute between a Pakistan-born stand-up comedian slash Uber driver, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani himself) and an American girl, Emily (Zoe Kazan at her Ruby Sparks level). It begins with heckling that escalates into flirts; before long, the two start dating. Uber dating and midnight toilet hunt then their relationship blossoms before hitting the roadblock; thanks to Kumail’s dishonesty to cover up his family’s cultural quest to find him a Pakistani Muslim bride.
Nanjiani and Gordon present the film’s conflict sympathetically as the characters’ inability to address and accommodate culture differences. The problem comes lightly without cornering any side and that’s what makes this story sits close to the reality. Kumail’s family isn’t portrayed as a villainous, conservative body; but as a loving family with all-the-best-for-my-son attitude. And, how the tradition is confronted to America’s circumstances is thoughtful and brave. That’s what makes it warm and reachable.
Just when the story seems to go straightforward to that side of culture clash, The Big Sick injects a high dose of drama when Emily suddenly falls into a mysterious sickness. Devastated Kumail’s life and comedian career start crumbling. That’s where Emily’s boldly styled parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) enter. Nanjiani and Gordon’s script neatly places and overlaps Kumail vs. his own family subplot with Kumail’s crumbling stand-up comedian tenure, Kumail and Emily’s parents’ bonding, and Emily’s struggle with her illness. But, it’s Showalter’s direction, which actually keeps it neater and clear-cut.
The Big Sick focuses on little details to create rom-com momentum (i.e., Kumail’s attempt to call Emily’s parent while her phone is locked is one witty moment). While the whole film isn’t explosively funny or romantic, the whole affectionate, warm portrayal of real-life love story is captivating and easy to grasp.
The Big Sick (2017)