When a couple’s amazing life story forms the basis for a funny and thoughtful movie you know you’ve picked a winner. Big Sick is the semi-autobiographical journey of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, (played by Zoe Kazan). It took three and a half years for the couple to write it, and is based on the first year of their incredible relationship. Listening to interviews with the couple on social media it appears that it could not have been scripted more truthfully. Audiences will appreciate the humour and relish a Romantic Comedy that is genuinely emotionally charged and at the same time thought provoking not just gushy and love hearts. Launched at the beginning of 2017 at the Sundance Film Festival, it deals cleverly with issues of arranged marriage, meeting strangers, embracing tragedy, and coping with racial and religious bigotry in a lighthearted but meaningful way. As Gene Pitney once sang, ‘True love never runs smooth’.
When Kumail, a Muslim, comic and part-time Uber driver meets American graduate student Emily, who heckles him at his show, she is not the only one who gives him an earful. His family are totally unaware of his growing relationship with Emily. Adapting to the American life and more is anything but easy for his family, and there are compromises to be made on both sides. A later beautiful scene when Kumail presents Emily with a reconciliation carrier bag filled with achievements and memories is priceless.
When Kumail is thrown into meeting Emily’s parents for the first time by her hospital bed, the film's focus changes, exploring home truths and misunderstandings on many levels. Emily’s parents (played masterfully by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) hear the words of Kumail over the phone, ‘Emily’s in a coma, but in a good way.’ Relationships grow in faith, trust, honesty and forgiveness.
This movie is full of insight, and director Michael Showalter, who understands the artistry of this comedic drama being himself a comic, actor and director has visualised a work that is clever and sensitive to the unpackaging of cultural customs and social norms. Big Sick aims to achieve that fragile balance between humour and reality: coping with uncomfortable dilemmas, stress, grief and loss while laughing and delighting in discoveries that help heal and potentially offer a new way forward.
Audiences will settle into this wonderful film and are likely to recall its funny side long after the credits finish. It would be a great choice for an outdoor Summer cinema screening.