FILM REVIEW: The Big Sick (2017)

The Big Sick

The Big Sick is a heartwarming and thoroughly entertaining film. While it may not leave you with a extraordinarily visible emotional reaction, there is no doubt it will melt away your internal cynicism until you are – pardon the cliche – all ‘gooey inside’. In fact when it comes to a genre that is ridden with stereotypes and predictability, curing and pardoning the cliche is where The Big Sick triumphs.

The story follows the story of Kumail, a part-time driver and stand-up comedian who falls in love with Emily who suddenly falls ill. Based on Kumail’s own experiences, it is at its core a recording of humanity. Unlike many romantic tragedy/comedies – the narrative did not collapse in the face of Emily’s illness but instead, grew from it. Her illness provided Kumail with the opportunity to see his life with Emily and adopt a new outlook on life. It feels strange calling this film just a “romantic comedy”, despite the key plot point of the film being the relationship of Emily and Kumail. Kumail is faced with a range of expectations as a first generation American, particularly the ideas of being a devout Muslim and dating a Pakistani girl. The film is a welcomed change to the traditional “rom com”; the characters are multi-layered and their responses to things are natural. It really is, as I mentioned before, a cure for a movie genre ridden with cliches.

Emily’s parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, had a clear chemistry on screen and their characters balanced each other perfectly. A lot of the conflict made sense within the characters such as Emily’s Dad being portrayed as weak and caving in to her Mother’s calls to action. This caused tension as Kumail receives advice from Emily’s nurse over just how much devastation her mother’s call to action could be. There is a real sincerity to the script that really comes through both the dialogue and the actor’s performances. There was also a striking consistency, even Kumail’s breakdown at one of his stand up shows felt in touch with his character and the issues facing him at the time.

Although this film has expelled many of the cliches of romantic comedies, the film use of actor Anupam Kher is also slightly disappointing. Despite the fact Kher boasts a successful career in both western and Bollywood films, his casting here – once again playing the role of a Pakistani father figure, truly felt like frustrating waste of talent and potential. Although Kher performs valiantly in the role, one struggles to disassociate an opinion about his character and an opinion on Hollywood’s insistence to cast such impressive actors in novelty roles.

Ones disappointment with the apparent lack of trust in this film extends to the marketing team for their creation of a trailer that is both misleading and utterly underwhelming next to this triumph of a film that totally ignores every avenue of potential success and focuses instead on the bleakness of illness and a few terrorism jokes. This film has so much going for it. It’s interplay between characters is one of its strongest aspects and this is completely absent in any promotional material. This could be seen as a blessing as the film goes above your expectations but leaves a significant amount of people disengaged and unaware of what they’ll miss.

Full of humour, full of life and full of warmth – Do not miss The Big Sick: In Cinemas nationwide from today!

Maria Dunne

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