Movie Review: The Big Sick
Romantic comedies have a way of transporting us from a world full of awkward Tinder dates and bad relationship choices to a place where true love can be adorable and hilarious, and it’s able to conquer all. If you want to be whisked away and caught up in a story that will have you feeling all the feels, head to the theater to see The Big Sick.
The Big Sick has all the fixin’s of a traditional romantic comedy, but the film is based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, which adds a lot of genuine heart and a flare of reality to the film.
Nanjiani plays himself in the movie, a single Pakistani man living in Chicago, trying to make it big in the stand-up comedy scene while he moonlights as an Uber driver. One night while performing, a charming grad student named Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) starts up some witty banter and the rest is history. The rest of the film follows their relationship and its moments of brutal honesty: Kumail discovers that Emily is divorced, which is then followed by Emily’s even more shocking discovery that Kumail has been hiding their relationship from his family.
The scenes that chronicle Kumail’s interactions with his family create a subplot in which he tries to play the role of a respectable, devout son to a traditional Pakistani Muslim family while also falling in love with an American girl (which is strictly forbidden by his parents) and pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. Kumail’s mother is constantly trying to arrange a marriage for him, and every meal he has with his parents is interrupted by a knock at the door from a new potential bride who “just happened to be in the neighborhood”. Kumail can never seem to find the right time to tell his family about Emily.
When Emily confronts Kumail about the fact that he’s been keeping her a secret, she asks him if there is any way that he sees her fitting into his life in an honest way. His answer is unsure answer at best.
The next time Kumail sees Emily, it’s in a hospital after she’s fallen very ill and he’s signing papers to put her in a medically induced coma. Though this scenario doesn’t seem likely, it somehow feels real. The acting is flawless and when Emily’s parents (played by Ray Ramano and Holly Hunter) arrive, the scenes play out in the awkward, fumbling, terrible, and tragic manner that you would imagine for a situation like this: you’ve broken a girl’s heart, she’s ended up in a coma, and you have to make nice with her parents for days while you wait for her to wake up because all the uncertainty has made you realize that you’re in love with her.
The story is more than a sweet commentary about how it’s possible to find true love; the biggest take away from the movie was about honesty. It’s really difficult to be honest sometimes. It’s messy and inconvenient and so much more difficult than just skating over issues, but if you want the really good stuff you’re probably going to need to get a little uncomfortable with yourself and with your partner, and with anyone that you want to have a deep relationship with, really. Honesty is the only way you’ll really know someone and if you think they’re worth fighting for.