Beka P., here…
If The Big Sick isn’t on your must see movie list, do yourself a favor and rewrite the list. This film is the real life love story of how actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) met his girlfriend and (spoiler alert) now wife, Emily Gordon. It’s not another Fault in Our Stars or Me Before You, it’s so much more than a love sick story. Behind the romantic comedy model is a story about a Pakistani immigrant who is struggling with identity, relationships, family, career and religion. To put it simply- he’s just trying to figure out this thing we call life.
Kumail plays himself, and if you’re a fan of Nanjiani’s work (Franklin and Bash, Portlandia, Silicon Valley), this is a real treat. While he is always an amazing supporting role, he takes center stage and shines. He is hilarious and warm and his jokes land in just the right spot. His smile lights up the screen and the way he conveys emotion as he deals with his family, illness and awkward situations is incredibly relatable. In addition to the love story, Kumail struggles with his stand up career and navigating his religious family who wants him to marry a Pakistani woman.
If you are from any sort of religious background the scenes with his parents will resonate. Last year my doctor hit on me in the middle of an exam. I left in shock and sent a group text to my parents. My father’s response was, “but is he Jewish?” Along the way Kumail’s desire to do what he wants as an assimilated American vs. what his Islamic parents want for him comes to a head. It’s so clear how much they love him and how hard it is to be a parent.
His relationship with his parents is paralleled beautifully with Emily’s (played by Zoe Kazan) relationship with her parents. Played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, they swoop in when Emily becomes sick and add depth, humor and passion to the film. In such different ways you see how zealously they love their child and yet don’t always know what’s best.
What I loved about this film was how it seemed to address the complexities that we all struggle with in a way that tugged at your heart strings and simultaneously evoked belly laughs. That’s the way life should be and director Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer) perfectly captures these moments. It should be a dance between salty and sweet with the people you love and who love you back fiercely. It’s never going to just come together, and the minute it does it will probably fall apart. This film shows you that it’s fragile and faulty and nothing should ever be taken for granted. You can’t quit your family; you can’t forget where you came from; when you love someone-love out loud, and above all else- there’s always room for jokes.