Based on the real relationship between stand-up comic turned actor Kumail Nanjiani and his girlfriend Emily V. Gordon - both wrote this film; the former who also stars in the lead - comes the tender and charming romantic-comedy of the summer, The Big Sick, and here are my thoughts on it.

Kumail (played by himself) is a struggling stand-up comedian, performing at a comedy club in Chicago to whoever wants to lend an ear, waiting - like his peers - for his big break. At home, he struggles with the pressures of his very traditional and religious Pakistani family - something that Nanjiani often tries to turn into the butt of a joke for his comic sets. When he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of these aforementioned sets, the pair quickly find themselves together. However, when Kumail's family life interferes (with his mother playing matchmaker and Pakistani girls continually "dropping by" his house, eager on making an impression for getting arranged for a marriage), their relationship is put through the wringer. But, to complicate matters further, Emily ends up in a coma and Kumail finds himself having to face her parents Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) and finally confront his feelings and family.

Recently, there has been a bit of a resurgence of famed comedians using this industry as a medium to share their off-kilter, funny lives with the world - Louis C.K kicked off the trend with the TV series LouieAziz Ansari has Masters of None and now Kumail Nanjiani teams with Judd Apatow for The Big Sick: putting his story on a feature-length scale. The premise alone offers itself up to a very fun concept, toying with the idea of Pakistani culture clashing with American life and throwing in this ex-boyfriend having to interact with his ex-girlfriend's parents dynamic too for good measure. And it works. The Big Sick is a great film, that takes Nanjiani's story and translates itself to the big-screen with such vigour and aplomb. Of course, Nanjiani co-wrote this film with his wife Emily Gordon and, given his comedic background, comedy is the backbone of this film and some of the humour is side-splittingly hilarious. The writing is just so sharp and quippy and utterly hysterical; Nanjiani has littered this film with jokes that are self-referential, meta and timely and there are lots of genuinely, gut-busting moments of comedy throughout. The first act especially is rather frenetic, hurling joke after joke at us.

However, whilst the comedy takes a backseat in the second and third acts of the film (it's certainly still there but rather toned down), the absence never feels glaringly obvious. Whilst the setup is perhaps a bit drawn out - the film takes at least a half hour until the story itself actually kicks in and things get going - the film flows seamlessly between its lighter, comedic beats and the more emotional meat of the story at hand - sometimes even neatly coupling the pair to create some very bittersweet scenes - and director Michael Showalter has a great handle on the tonal balancing: comedy and drama, never an easy mix. Where the second and third acts lack in humour, they make up with heart. The Big Sick packs quite the emotional punch at times; there's such an effortless and tender authenticity to the proceedings and to these simple, yet likeable, characters that really draws us in and makes us care immensely for everything we are watching - Showalter, again, flavouring with a bittersweet resonance to it all.

The performances are astounding. Nanjiana and Kazan have such palpable chemistry; their relationship is adorable and believable and they work wonders together. Nanjiana, especially, brings such anguish and sincerity here; it's easy to relate and empathise with him. However, it's Ray Romano and Holly Hunter that steal the show as Terry and Beth, Emily's parents. Both are such emotionally charged, nuanced performances and so genuinely hilarious too - they're magnetic and brilliant together. These characters and these performances are the pulse of this film and the work is truly stellar. The Big Sick is just such a brilliant, timely and relevant film. It's accessible for all and excels all in all the areas it touches upon so superbly. The fact that this story is all grounded in reality - based upon Kumail's actual life and relation with his real-life Emily - makes it all the more touching and beautiful. There's an innocuity to the proceedings; it's charming and euphoric and hilarious and heart-wrenching and such a delightful story to invest into for a couple of hours.


The Big Sick is an endearing and timely story about love, culture and family and one of the funniest, most delightful films of the year.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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