The Big Sick broke my heart into a million little pieces and slowly pieced it back together throughout its gentle, sweet and very, very funny 120 minutes. Featuring an unconventional but brilliant lead performer, a radiant love interest and two of the best possible supporting players anyone could ask for, The Big Sick is, thus far, the best movie of 2017.
Kumail Nanjiani stars in the mostly true story of his love story with real life wife Emily Gordon, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Kumail. The unconventional love story finds Kumail struggling to balance the demands of his traditional Pakistani born family with his desire to live outside the strictures of religion and in a more conventional style of American, big city life.
Still discovering who he is and what he believes in, Kumail stumbles into a romance with Emily, played by Zoe Kazan, equally thoughtful and searching young person. While each playfully and sarcastically discusses their unwillingness to become attached to the other the attraction becomes something neither can deny as they discover in each other pieces of themselves that they didn’t know existed.
Naturally, the conflict of Kumail’s family life, wherein his mother, wonderfully played by Zenobia Shroff, repeatedly attempts to set him up for an arranged marriage to a Pakistani woman and Kumail’s desire for Emily come into play but The Big Sick has something bigger in mind. When Emily falls ill, Kumail is thrust into a maelstrom of emotions and complications, including Emily’s struggling parents brilliantly portrayed by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano in Academy Award level performances.
The Big Sick is directed by Michael Showalter whose ability to combine awkward humor and deep sensitivity has never been this well displayed. Previous films like The Baxter play closer to the weird side of Showalter’s brand of humor, honed in the world of sketch comedy on The State and Stella. Showalter’s Hello My Name is Doris is a lovely table-setter for The Big Sick as it demonstrated his ability to bring his style of humor to a more conventional style of storytelling.
Now, with The Big Sick, Showalter has thrust himself into the conversation about our new golden age of directors. While Nanjiani and Gordon deserve much of the credit for so nakedly revealing their depths and the struggle of their love affair, it is Showalter who brings the film together giving the film a warmth and comfort that grounds these wonderfully colorful characters in a relatable and very human story.
My heart soared and sank and longed throughout The Big Sick. I kept wishing for the characters to realize what we in the audience already knew but like real people they needed to make mistakes and be selfish and grow apart before they could grow together. The Big Sick is sensitive, sweet, smart and very, very funny. It’s a film that moved me to tears and to guffaws and reminded me why I love going to the movies, to experience the lives, loves and trials of people like Kumail and Emily.
The Big Sick is the best movie of 2017 thus far.