Nov-7-2017

Reel Snippet – The Big Sick

Summary: Aspiring stand up comic Kumail Nanjiani (played by himself) has his life turned upside-down when a white girl named Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan) heckles him at one of his shows, which leads to a one-night stand and then a full-blown relationship. This complicates things because Kumail’s family is devoutly Muslim and his mother (Zenobia Shroff) keeps trying to set him up with Pakistani women. Of course, his attempts to keep these lives separate crash spectacularly and cause Emily to leave him. But things take another turn when Emily falls ill and Kumail has to pretend to be her husband to allow the doctors to induce a coma and potentially save her life. From there, he meets her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter), develops a relationship with them, and has to make some tough decisions about what’s really important to him.

Review: The Big Sick was funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and more amazing because it’s all true. The film is labeled just as a comedy and I feel that’s a great disservice because it’s so much more. It’s a journey about discovering honesty at the cost of your own security, about finding what’s acceptable about your life, and most importantly about crossing a cultural barrier for love. Pigeonholing such an eye-opening story into one category simply doesn’t do it justice.

I had to steel myself throughout a lot of the runtime because some of the subject matter was very tough for me. I’m going to be honest: the pressure and enforcement of children into arranged marriages, especially in the Muslim faith, is one of the most barbaric, reprehensible, and abusive practices still going on today, right under female circumcision. Parents who force their children to go through this (or worse, kick them out of the family for not complying) should face criminal charges and be forced to forfeit their estates and wealth to their children and I’m not sorry for any feathers ruffled for that opinion. Thankfully, the film sympathizes with Kumail’s discomfort as his mother ambushed him with a parade of “surprise” female guests at their family dinners. At the same time, though, they try to make his family sympathetic to the audience as they’re shown to have good hearts and a good camaraderie with Kumail throughout the whole affair. I don’t know how well the movie’s attempts will succeed across audiences, but the effort is there.

There’s a lot to love about this movie, particularly the characters interacting with each other. It makes the whole thing seem so real… which is fitting because it all really happened. I have to wonder how much Kumail was able to recall from memory and how much was added for dramatic convenience. Whatever the case, I’m really glad saw this and I highly recommend it. Who knows, maybe it’ll touch you just like it touched me.

Fun Tidbit: Part of the reason this story rings so true is that it was written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon — a.k.a. the real Emily from the story. Both of our main characters got to tell their story.


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