Photo by Photo by Nicole Rivelli - © WHILE YOU WERE COMATOSE, LLC
Photo by Photo by Nicole Rivelli - © WHILE YOU WERE COMATOSE, LLC

A fresh and heartfelt romantic comedy that makes you question if you should cry or laugh. This film makes you do both.

Kumail Nanjiani plays… Kumail a struggling stand-up comedian and an Uber driver living in the city of Chicago. He comes from a strict Pakistani Muslim family who are constantly trying to set him up with various Pakistani women every week in the hope of organising an arranged marriage. Kumail never goes out with these girls, however he keeps pictures of them in his cigar box. After being heckled by Emily (Zoe Kazan) one night, they hook up and begin to date. This puts Kumail in a tricky position; he worries if he should tell his parents (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher) who would most likely dismiss him for it, after Emily finds the pictures of the girls, Kumail admits to not telling his parents about her, this leads to Emily freaking out and walking out on him. A Few weeks later Kumail gets a phone call about Emily, this unfortunate incident leads to Kumail questioning his ways, regrets and family.

Based on real life events in Kumail Nanjiani’s life the story is one of heartbreak, sadness, hilarity and enjoyment. Kumail expertly shows the struggle that he has to go through to keep his family happy as well as himself, having to pretend to pray and hiding his love life. He doesn’t have the heart to tell them the truth to his mother and father, only his brother, Naveed (Adeel Akhtar) who is a little more on the understanding side even though he has gone through an arranged marriage himself and tries to persuade Kumail to do the same.

As he has been brought up in America he has adapted to different ways than his family, having American friends (Bo Burnham and Aidy Bryant) and meeting American girls the majority of his life is doing the same things they do, that’s not to say he can follow in the same footsteps as his family but rather he doesn’t want to, his situation allows him to make that choice but he refuses to face the consequences, nevertheless the consequences happen and Kumail is left to deal with them, however he has no one who understands his position, they are either on one side or the other, leaving Kumail to make serious decisions.

The cast do a fantastic job in playing their characters, Kumail appears to be just an everyday guy, doing what he loves in stand up comedy, Zoe Kazan as Emily is a fun loving chirpy girl who lives life to the fullest, the two performances complement each other superbly. Her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) bounce of each other really well, Ray Romano plays the nervous and quiet father while Holly Hunter plays the confident and stern mother, as the film progresses we see the relationship develop between Kumail and Emily’s parents from anger to love, the shock and misery of the situation they are in throws in some hilarious but inappropriate jokes and seriously touching scenes that make you cry with laughter.

A small criticism I have is that the film could have spent more time on the first act building the relationship between Kumail and Emily even further. This would have made the second and third act just that little bit more convincing.

Overall, the film touches on the issues of family, religion and love. Kumails battles, values and choices are all told wonderfully mixed in with the brilliant humour and heartfelt scenes The Big Sick is sure to be a contender for one of the best films of the year so far.

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Elias Michael
Elias Michael is a Director currently residing in London, England.