The Feels Are Contagious In 'The Big Sick'
By Livia Peterson
Humane narratives can be difficult to discover in the midst of boatloads of prequels, sequels, and remakes. However, when one stumbles upon a rare gem that is so considerate of its viewers, one must cherish it. Such is the case with Michael Showalter’s “The Big Sick,” which is inspired by real-life events that occurred to spouses Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, which perfectly balances life with comedy.
Kumail first encounters Emily (Zoe Kazan) at a comedy club after one of his gigs. The duo hang out, hook up, then agree not to date. Predictably, the pair quickly breaks the agreement and form a relationship. But the chief setback is Kumail’s parents Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) and Azmat (Anupam Kher), who expect him to stay faithful to the Pakistani culture, specifically its tradition of arranged marriage, and coerce Kumail into meeting with several potential wives.
After Emily discovers photos of all these marriage candidates, an argument ensues and they part. But shortly after, Emily starts to feel ill, causing Kumail to not only reenter her life, but actually sign paperwork allowing doctors to place her under a medically induced coma. In the meantime, Kumail meets and bond with her parents Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) during several hospital visits. Their reactions are as heartfelt and hilarious as the best on-screen courtships, as their interactions initially range from awkward at best to outright hostile at worst, then gradually become more warm as they all bond over their love and anxiety for Emily.
Anchored by terrific performances by its entire cast, “The Big Sick” is bound to become an instant favorite. The intelligent screenplay, written by Gordon and Nanjiani, is able to seamlessly and effortlessly evoke both laughter and tears. The film is able to acknowledge the fact that life does indeed suck sometimes, but love and humor can still win out, even when you're stuck in a hospital while a loved one's life hangs in the balance.
While there are some some romcom cliches, the deeply relatable characters and painfully realistic narrative have the effect of not only making the audience enjoy them, but, like the best stories tend to do, make us feel like we're experiencing them for the first time.
Because “The Big Sick,” thankfully, is far from a bland Nicholas Sparks romance. It is a genuine love story that taps into the zeitgeist – from acknowledging how cultural and various personal differences can potentially hinder a budding romance. But love once again proves strong enough to endure.