Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Big Sick (2017)

THE BIG SICK (2017) is a very good comedy-drama about a cross-cultural romance which has just hit the skids when one of the couple falls critically ill.

The film is unusual in that it's a fictionalized version of the real-life relationship of screenwriters Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani plays himself, and is excellent doing so, while Emily is realistically played by Zoe Kazan.

Kumail is a stand-up comedian and Uber driver in this Chicago-set story, while Emily is studying for her Master's in psychology. They meet and begin to forge a relationship, while Kumail's Pakistani-born parents keep trying to set him up with nice Pakistani girls.

Kumail is torn between his parents and Emily, not telling his parents he's dating a white American girl while also hiding his parents' marital intentions for him from Emily. When Emily learns that his parents have no idea she exists, she despairs of them having a future together and breaks up with Kumail.

At this point life takes an unexpected twist as Emily becomes ill with a mysterious infection and is placed in a medically induced coma. Kumail and Emily's parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter), who arrive in town from North Carolina, gradually develop their own relationships during the long hospital vigil. Simultaneously Kumail comes to realize what he really wants in life.

This sounds heavier than it plays, as the drama is frequently punctuated with bits of humor. At times the film even calls to mind WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995), as Kumail becomes close to Emily's family while she's unconscious.

The four lead actors are all excellent. Nanjiani is personable, and Kazan feels like real people I've known; their characters come off as quite genuine. Hunter and Romano are excellent as Emily's stressed parents; they initially resent Kumail, given that he broke their daughter's heart, but come to enjoy and appreciate him.

I only had two quibbles with the film. The first is that the final act runs too long; the movie is 120 minutes and could have stood to shave a few minutes in favor of a quicker resolution.

My other disappointment is that this R-rated film had such excessive bad language. It's frankly a shame there's so much of it, as this is otherwise a very good movie and the language becomes annoying, pointless verbal clutter. I wish they had dialed it back to PG-13 levels.

THE BIG SICK was directed by Michael Showalter and filmed by Brian Burgoyne. The supporting cast includes Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Shenaz Treasurywala, Myra Lucretia Taylor, and Linda Emond.

The trailer is on YouTube.

So far this year I've been seeing "new" films at a faster-than-usual pace, averaging a couple per month. It's quite nice to have that many films out which are worth checking out! I anticipate that the next new release I'll see will be DUNKIRK (2017), which opens on Friday, July 21st.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I was part of an early audience survey for this film and I've been excited to watch it ever since. It looks like a unique film. I've heard nothing but good reviews. Thanks for your review Laura! I hope I can see this film at the cinemas soon.

8:35 AM  

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