The Big Sick – Review

Kumail Nanjiani as Kumail and Zoe Kazan as Emily in The Big Sick – Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

The stagnant state of the rom-com genre has gone unnoticed by myself, as the trend began dying out as early as 2006. The Big Sick made me experience one of those watershed moments where you realize just how few rom-com’s have actually released in this decade, furthermore, just how few good ones.

The Big Sick loosely follows the true story of writer/actor Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with his wife Emily (Zoe Kazan). Real-life counterpart Emily V. Gordon also acted as the primary writer of this film.

Featuring stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani, seasoned rom-com actress Zoe Kazan, and supporting roles from Ray Romano and Holly Hunter; The Big Sick is a true story, and a comedy filled one at that. The films specific focus on comedy over romance allows new avenues of the rom-com genre to be explored, as the majority of the story veers away from the lovey-dovey tropes that are so prevalent in even the best rom-coms. Dry humour and comedic timing are a driving force behind much of the film’s execution, even the smallest of comedic moments effortlessly work in the film with little of it feeling forced to entice laughter. The humour in the film is so deadpan and dry that it almost becomes immune to “missing its mark” and blending nicely with even its most serious pieces of dialogue. While the comedy plays such an instrumental role in the films identity, the careful development of its characters are what grip you throughout the course of the film – slowly learning the personality of each supporting character becomes the films most unique asset, as little of the film actually focuses on the romance between the two lead characters. It’s better to enter this film with as little knowledge of its story as possible, allow yourself to not guess which direction the story will take and take in the light-hearted humour that it offers.

Kumail Nanjiani’s strengths lie in his comedy; he plays a stand-up comic in the film and in real life, while he can bring out some emotion, much of the more intense emotional sequences begin to go out of his range as we get deeper into the third act. The real standout performances lie in its supporting cast, Holly Hunter brings forth a relatable and firmly crafted performance as the lead actress’s mother, offering comedic and emotionally driven persona. We also get a surprisingly hefty performance from Ray Romano as he dives into a character with depth and legitimate issues.

Other small roles from Kumail’s comedian friends are welcomed additions to the film and only made it that much funnier. Finally, Zoe Kazan has a seemingly smaller role than you would expect but her portrayal and emotional bluntness in some of the more tense moments bring the romance side of the film to a more grounded level.

Many of the technical features are forgotten throughout this film; the camerawork doesn’t stand as a monumental achievement by any means and neither does the soundtrack, the material is what makes the film such an enjoyable experience, but for the lack technical features I can’t help but wonder what more could have been done to make this film look and feel better through camera-work alone. Overall the pacing of the film was great and the material backs it up, that is all that’s required of a romcom, and I can accept that to an extent.

The Big Sick takes an unconventional approach to the rom-com genre with its unique story structure, thoughtfully developed characters, and its arsenal of comedic prowess over standard slapstick humour. It has witty jokes, relatable characters, but more importantly the romance it contains is realistic – this is likely to be the best romantic comedy film of the year depending on preferences.

8.2/10

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