A review of the new rom-com movie “The Big Sick”

This is a romantic comedy that follows the traditional rom-com narrative: boy meets girl, boy loses girl – well, you know the rest. But much else is a fresh approach to the genre.

Above all, the lead characters are not traditional fare. The family of stand-up comedian Kumail (played by stand-up Kumail Nanjiani) are Pakistani migrants to Chicago, while (white) Emily (Zoe Kazan) – as the title forewarns – has some health issues. The script, by Nanjiani and his wife Emily V Gordon, is based on their real-life experience together as underlined by some photographs at the beginning of the credits.

So this is an original twist on a very familiar genre and it works a treat. The characters are utterly believable and we root for them – not just the young couple but also her very different parents, ably portrayed by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter.

The humour is understated but sharp, not least in its observations on Muslim families and in a brief discussion about 9/11, and there is much inter-racial and inter-generational contrast in a world where everyone wants what’s for the best but often disagrees on what that is. In short, the film is a gem and highly recommended.


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