By Aleksandra Wicko
Drifting away from traditional Hollywood romance, ‘The Big Sick’ takes a refreshing and hilarious approach to a conventional form and does justice to complicated real-life relationships. Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, the issue of interracial relationships provides a compelling narrative that includes a big secret and a medically-induced coma.
Directed by New Jersey native Michael Showalter, ‘The Big Sick’ is a genuine account of breaking free from the pressures imposed by one’s parents. Early on, Kumail’s mother (played by Zenobia Shroff) presses her son to meet young Pakistani women in preparation for an arranged marriage. The continuous pressure imposed by Pakistani tradition drives Kumail to a breaking point. Eventually, Kumail dismisses all the candidates and pursues his real love interest, Emily (played by Zoe Kazan). Kumail’s sacrificing of his relationship with his family in exchange for the woman he loves shows a familiar struggle as interracial marriage becomes more common.
Aside from Kumail’s cultural conflict, audiences also bear witness o trust issues between Kumail and Emily, Kumail’s struggle to become a successful comedian, Emily’s medical complications and her resulting induced coma, racial stereotypes, and a relationship crisis between Emily’s parents.
While some may see the huge number of issues raised by the film as a confusing element that over-complicates the main plotline, it is also what makes the film more raw and realistic. Life is an endless battle of addressing long-standing problems and dealing with new ones that pop up along the way. Simplifying the story down to one central issue would make it two-dimensional and flat. Instead, it reflected the multifaceted nature of real life.
Although the movie did not make me cry, I found myself laughing at jokes for several minutes, even after the scene had already changed. For those in the mood for a down-to-earth comedy, ‘The Big Sick’ is a must-see.