FILM REVIEW | The Big Sick

In times gone by, a movie like The Big Sick would not have starred Kumail Nanjiani in the lead.

Someone like Channing Tatum, Adam Sandler or Jason Bateman would have played the regretful up-and-coming stand-up comic who must hang out with the parents of his now ex-girlfriend as she lies in a coma.

That would have been ridiculous, of course, given it’s the actor/writer’s real-life love story but it’s more than likely the role would have gone to a more bankable star – not a largely unknown Pakistani man.

And, sure, that movie with Tatum, Sandler or Bateman would have been fine but it wouldn’t have had the emotional complexity of this film thanks to the added cultural dynamic.

The movie follows Kumail, who meets Emily (Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks) after she sees him, and heckles him, at one of his stand-up gigs.

Breaking barriers: Writer and star Kumail Nanjiani with Zoe Kazan, who plays his real-life wife Emily V. Gordon in The Big Sick, rated M, in cinemas on Thursday.

Breaking barriers: Writer and star Kumail Nanjiani with Zoe Kazan, who plays his real-life wife Emily V. Gordon in The Big Sick, rated M, in cinemas on Thursday.

The pair quickly hit it off but their relationship hits a snag when Emily discovers Kumail has serious doubts that they could spend their life together without him being ostracised from his family.

The Nanjianis expect Kumail to marry a Pakistani woman, selected by them, and lead a traditional Islamic life.

He fears dating a white woman like Emily will result in his being kicked out of the family he cherishes.

But all those fears fall by the wayside when Emily is suddenly hospitalised with a serious and mysterious illness and put into an induced coma.

Kumail spends time with Emily’s parents – played by the ever-fantastic Holly Hunter (The Piano) and Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) – and realises that all relationships have their hurdles to overcome.

The relationship between Kumail and Emily’s father is one of the film’s highlights.

The Big Sick is filled with genuine laugh-out-loud moments but also packs a serious punch in the drama department.

Nanjiani balances romance, comedy and the clash of cultures with great deftness and authenticity.

It’s easy to follow the characters because their concerns are real, their motivations ring true and their mistakes smart. It’s a moving, hilarious, touching true story.

Watch it with Mum.

This story Cool coma comedy charms first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.

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