Today: February 22, 2024

The Big Sick

Remember 1995’s While You Were Sleeping? It started Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman being oh so Hollywood cute. Now imagine that with a bit of diversity and a warm, mushy heart at its centre and an often brutally honest look at modern day love. That’s The Big Sick. And it is easily one of the most delightful films of the year.

Unless you’re a fan of the brilliant Silicon Valley you might not be aware of actor, and writer, Kumail Nanjiani. But after The Big Sick you w, because he’s going places. Big shiny, keep an eye on him places. What he has conjured with both his central performance and script, which he co-wrote with wife Emily V. Gordon, in The Big Sick is an honest, funny and smile inducing romantic comedy that covers a number of topics without ever feeling anything other than real.

Kumail (essentially playing himself) is an Uber driver and aspiring stand-up comedian. Having moved to the USA from Pakistan when he was young Kumail is a good family boy who humours his mother about finding him an arranged bride. But Kumail has bought into the whole American Dream thing. So when he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) the two begin a relationship only for Kumail’s family loyalty to drive them apart. Until that is Emily falls ill and only Kumail is there to help her.

From the outset The Big Sick’s humour is immediate and affectionate. Brilliantly balancing recognisable interactions, the kind of which you can imagine being also quoted from the writing couple’s actual relationship, with likeable but realistic characters. The culture clash of Kumail’s family and his growing affections for the adorably sarcastic Emily is always on the periphery but, smartly, it is the charming interactions that take centre stage.

By the time Emily falls ill you’re fully invested, to the point where you’re left wondering how there can still be a good hour and a bit left of the film. Until that is Emily’s parents turn up. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano take over from Kazan’s glib ways by at first rejecting and then welcoming Kumail into the family, all the while Emily sleeps.

What works so well is you never quite know how it’s all going to work out. Is Emily going to be okay? If she is, will she forgive Kumail? Will Kumail’s family ever accept his choices? There are so many possibilities and all of them it would have been so easy to get wrong. But, perhaps because it is based on a true story and all this happened the way it’s written, The Big Sick side-steps what could have been a minefield of awkward and uncomfortable subject matters.

For fans of Silicon Valley Nanjiani shows a very different side to his hostile Dinesh. Here he is a little insecure, a little cocky but always disarming. Meanwhile, Kazan, who is brilliant in everything, injects Emily with an edge to make her the perfect foil for Nanjiani. The two bounce off each other to perfection and create a loving level of intimate familiarity.

Hands down one of the cutest films of the year and a romantic comedy to warm you on a cold night.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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