Kumail Nanjiani weaves an exceptionally brilliant story of love and sacrifice in his newest romantic comedy, ‘The Big Sick’.
In an archetypal romantic comedy, the two, leading lovers tend to be young, likable and otherwise destined for each other. Yet, they are kept apart by some complicating circumstance until, surmounting all obstacles, they are finally wedded. In Kumail’s case, this obstacle takes the form of class differences and parental interference. Two themes that undoubtedly heighten the relevance of the film.
Kumail is a Pakistani comic who meets an American graduate student named Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his stand-up gigs. As their relationship unfolds, he gloomily anticipates what his traditional Muslim parents will think of her. Parents who will jump at the opportunity to gift upon their son an “arranged” marriage. Suffice to say, they don’t approve of Emily.
‘The Big Sick’ undeniably occupies the romantic comedy genre, however, I would argue it’s gift is that it pushes the categorial envelope. The screenplay is incredibly intelligent, to put it modestly. But more importantly, it handles difficult topics; it’s topics other filmmakers are afraid to even look at, with such grace and deference that it has almost created a new standard for the genre as a whole.
Romantic comedies have become passable films. Two-hour, running clichés, rather. Studios evolving into hamster-like wheels that churn out flick after flick with no integrity. The longer we allow these clichés to consume our films the harder it becomes for us to escape them. At which point you must tip your hat to Kumail and Emily Gordon (an author and Kumail’s life partner) for crafting such an intriguing piece of literature.
The film is exceedingly honest, an open book of sorts, and so ridiculous it must be a true story. Kumail learns from his relationship that honesty is the best policy. A golden-rule that protrudes from the screen with vibrant colors. It is hard-pressed not to laugh at the unbearable circumstances presented throughout the film. Somehow, the tension and the humor live symbiotically together.
Even at the risk of running too long, ‘The Big Sick’ is good for more than just a few laughs. In fact, the anticipation of the succeeding one-liner is so ever-present in the theater, you can feel the audience’s mouths agape with expectancy. Above all else, ‘The Big Sick’ will make you laugh, cry, and think, and that’s a win in anyone’s book.