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There have been some strange movies based on real life, the old adage that the truth is stranger than fiction one that proves pretty spot on more times than not, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the story of a man who falls in love with his girlfriend while she’s in a coma is actually true no matter how quirky it sounds. And yet, it is in fact real, with writer and actor Kumail Nanjiani‘s relationship with his real wife the story behind his newest film, The Big Sick. Seems like fodder more for a drama but somehow, in these hands, makes for a surprisingly earnest comedy.
Nanjiani basically plays himself, his character named Kumail who is a textbook struggling comedian with a gaggle of amusing friends who hopes to get himself a gig in an upcoming festival. He’s Pakistani, and a such, his zestful parents Azmat (Anupam Kher) and Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) strive to get him married and arrange for a string of young women to lure him to such, though Kumail isn’t really interested in it all until he meets a white girl named Emily (Zoe Kazan) who herself is taken by his humor and charms. They grow close but when Kumail can’t bring himself to introduce her to his family, she ends. However, when she falls ill with a mysterious disease and is put into a medically induced coma, Kumail is contacted before her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) arrive. Deciding to stay by her side, Kumail eventually bonds with Beth and Terry while their daughter remains unaware any of what’s happening.
Directed by Michael Showalter, The Big Sick might have you thinking straight away of the 1995 Sandra Bullock romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping, but only for a moment as the film’s couldn’t be any different. This movie is about a relationship that has already begun, even if the two declare they are not dating. They clearly like each other a lot and the chemistry between Kazan and Nanjiani is half the film’s success. Kazan has an effervescent presence about her that make her less of a typical meet cute movie girl than a grounded and authentic woman who earns his affection and our respect. That she spends a good deal of the film in a bed playing unconscious and is still powerfully noticeable is a testament to Kazan’s near immeasurable charms.
The other great relationships of the film are those Kumail has with his own parents and that with Emily’s, both of which are funny and endearing. While Kher and Shroff or mostly played for a laugh, Hunter and Romano have some great moments as concerned mother and father, dealing with a young man whom they’ve never met who knows much about their daughter. Romano finds room to breath in a rare dramatic role and Hunter simply aches as a mother in great distress. It’s a sensational turn by an actress who has consistently found roles that allow her to be feircely feminine and yet endless identifiable.
The Big Sick is produced by Judd Apatow, who can practically make a movie like this in his sleep by now, and yet layers them – no matter how similar the formula is – with such humanity, it’s hard to find fault. Nanjiani is poised to break out, his deadpan comedy style steadily gaining footing and a vehicle like this is just the thing to get audiences on board with his potential. More so, this should open doors for Kazan, who reveals that with the right people, she can do wondrous things.
Movie description: The Big Sick is a 2017 comedy / drama about a couple who must deal with their cultural difference as their relationship progresses.
Director(s): Michael Showalter
Actor(s): Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter
Genre: Comedy, Drama