The Big Sick (2017) Review

Keeva Stratton

Film Expert

This romantic comedy, based on the central star Kumail Nanjiani’s own experience of a cross-cultural relationship, is as moving as it is funny. Tracing cultural challenges in the already complex world of modern dating, The Big Sick offers a healthy antidote to prejudice.

the-big-sickimage via youtube

Kumail is performing his regular five-minute stand-up routine when he is interrupted by a heckler, Emily. She catches his eye, and later becomes a one-night stand that ends with him Uber driving her home (his second job).

They agree not to date, yet somehow, they can’t stop seeing each other, and a romance quickly blossoms.

But, for Pakistani-born Kumail, it’s complicated. Not only has he failed his traditional parents by choosing to pursue his comedy dream, but he knows that an arranged marriage is in his future, and therefore any relationship cannot get too serious.

Emily is also cautious to commit. It turns out she’s made mistakes in love before, and is sceptical that she is yet to meet Kumail’s parents, and he hers. When she discovers his mum’s determination to arrange his marriage, they break up; and it will take a mysterious illness, and a long time spent in hospital waiting rooms, for Kumail to finally realise what Emily means to him, and for the truth to be told.

The Big Sick is a brilliant film. It’s funny and warm, and for anyone who has married across differing cultures, very, very real. It makes you laugh and cry, and really smile, which is such a rare and welcome combination.

It would be easy to feel like we’ve conceded ground to prejudice in the past few years, but the warmth and endearing nature of this film shows how powerful a medium it can be, to counter such damage. Through the humour and the emotion that the writers have personally imparted, it’s clear how much this story means to them.

Judd Apatow, through his support of diverse storytelling, has become an important voice for our generation. The Big Sick is no exception.

And, best of all, for all its barrier breaking down abilities, it remains a funny, warm and emotional film that will have you invested in its characters from the opening credits.

The Big Sick offers the healthiest dissection of cultural prejudice and the pitfalls of stereotyping I’ve seen yet. It’s brilliant and has the capacity to promote understanding across generational, racial and cultural divides—all, impressively, while being really funny.

Humour is a profound tool, and Nanjiani shows its true power in this wonderful film.

Director: Michael Showalter

Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter

Runtime: 120 mins

Release Date: August 3

Rating: M

Reviewer Rating: 4.5/5


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