Sweet, funny and poignantly insightful, “The Big Sick” is a perfectly pitched romantic comedy semi-autobiographical memoir of how star Kumail Nanjiani met his real-life wife.
Kumail is making a living as an Uber driver as he tries to get his big break in stand up comedy. After a gig, he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) and although both of them are adamant it’s just a one-night thing, neither of them seems keen to stop seeing the other. But when Kumail’s reluctance to meet her parents or introduce her to his causes trouble, it seems like their relationship is over. At least, that is, until one night when Kumail receives a call from Emily’s friend telling him she’s been taken to hospital.
Usually, you’d expect a film which juggles romance, comedy, religion, immigration, family conflict and career aspirations to be an overcrowded and jumbled but there’s such a beautifully judged authenticity to everything that unfolds that nothing feels rushed or incomplete. The performances of the cast are superb, from the innate likability of Nanjiani and Kazan to the down-home wisdom of Emily’s parents played with a heartfelt world-weariness by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.
A real-life twist on the “While You Were Sleeping” premise, it may make several references to “The X-Files” but it’s the TV series “House, MD” which it homages as Emily’s illness defies the Doctors, deftly giving Kumail time to bond with Emily’s parents and reflect on his own situation and choices.
Unshowy, tender and sublimely well observed, “The Big Sick” is the perfect antidote to the summer blockbuster box office overload and proves that the romantic comedy formula can be completely revitalised by gaining a fresh perspective.