Tuesday, July 11, 2017

[Review] The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani writes and stars in The Big Sick, a semi-autobiographical dramedy that is as delightful as it is poignant. It's part Don't Think Twice and "Master of None". Part 50/50 and "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths. And it's one of the best films of the year so far.

Kumail (portraying himself) is a Pakistani immigrant in Chicago, working as an Uber driver by day, an amateur comedian by night. He's also a compulsive liar, but with good intentions, if that makes any sense. Anyway, when he begins dating Emily (Zoe Kazan), some major obstacles arise in their relationship--like Kumail's wholly traditional parents (Zenobia Shroff & Anupam Kher) who are adamant about arranging a marriage for him. And then there's a serious medical emergency (ah, now the title makes sense) that strikes uncertainty in Kumail and Emily's future together.

Co-written with Emily V. Gordon, the film conveys an excellent script. It's thoughtful, clever, thorny, and heartfelt all at once. The humorous dialogue is always laced with an undercurrent of tragedy, and that's very much indicative of the film's overall tone. There are moments that will make you laugh out loud, as well as ones that will tear your heart out and bounce it on the floor. All of the gooey yet effective streaks of sentimentality feel entirely earned. Oh, and the callbacks. The callbacks are really good. But one of the most interesting aspects about the story is the exploration of the dynamic between Kumail and Emily's parents (played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who are both pleasantly fantastic here). Like its own rollercoaster--it constantly fluctuates between hostility and bonding amidst a personal crisis. Also great, of course, is the leading man Kumail, with a wide-ranging performance that easily stands head and shoulders above his smaller roles.

The Big Sick is about the complicated relationships we encounter. The doozies that life drops. The intricacies of family and culture. And the power of comedy that can sometimes help us through it all.

* 9.5/10 *

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