Up­lift­ing and bit­ter­sweet tale of cross­cul­tural love a real gem

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT -

THE BIG SICK (15)

JUST when it seemed that heart­felt ro­man­tic come­dies might be in ter­mi­nal de­cline and doomed to labour on life sup­port, along comes di­rec­tor Michael Showal­ter’s up­lift­ing and bit­ter­sweet tale of cross-cul­tural love.

Based on the real-life courtship of Pak­istani-Amer­i­can stand-up co­me­dian Ku­mail Nan­jiani and his wife Emily V Gor­don, who co-wrote the script, The Big Sick is a small, per­fectly formed gem, which is pol­ished to a daz­zling glis­ter by a su­perb en­sem­ble cast.

Nan­jiani plays him­self to dead­pan per­fec­tion and he catal­y­ses molten screen chem­istry with co-star Zoe Kazan as the luminous ob­ject of his awk­ward af­fec­tions.

Their fledg­ling ro­mance is sketched in del­i­cate strokes and when this amour fou hits an almighty speed bump that com­pels Emily to tear­fully con­fide ‘You make me sad in­side my heart,’ we are dev­as­tated like her paramour.

The two-hour run­ning time al­lows Nan­jiani and Kazan to pop­u­late each un­fussy frame with flawed, be­liev­able and en­dear­ing char­ac­ters, who don’t al­ways know what to say to ease the pain of the peo­ple they adore.

Trick­les of salt­wa­ter tears are mopped up with swathes of sin­cere, warm-hearted hu­mour.

If laugh­ter is the best medicine then a spoon­ful of Showal­ter’s film is a tonic that leaves the sweet­est feel­ing.

In 2006, Ku­mail (Nan­jiani) hones his craft on the Chicago com­edy scene with fel­low stand-ups CJ (Bo Burn­ham), Mary (Aidy Bryant) and Chris (Kurt Braunohler).

To pay the rent, Ku­mail works as a taxi driver and he en­joys pre­cious fam­ily time with his fa­ther Az­mat (Anupam Kher), brother Naveed (Adeel Akhtar) and mother Sharmeen (Zeno­bia Shroff ), who in­vites a dif­fer­ent Pak­istani Mus­lim woman to the din­ner table each night as a po­ten­tial love match.

After one com­edy gig, Ku­mail meets spunky au­di­ence mem­ber Emily (Kazan) and there is a pal­pa­ble spark of at­trac­tion.

Ku­mail keeps the re­la­tion­ship se­cret from his fam­ily, then Emily dis­cov­ers a cigar box filled with pho­to­graphs of women hand-picked by his mother.

‘Are you judg­ing Pak­istan’s next top model?’ she in­quires jok­ingly.

When Ku­mail ner­vously ex­plains his par­ents’ pre­sump­tion of ar­ranged mar- riage, Emily feels be­trayed and tear­fully asks ‘Can you imag­ine a world in which we end up to­gether?’

‘I don’t know,’ he replies.

Soon after, Emily con­tracts a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion and doc­tors in­duce a med­i­cal coma.

It’s left to Ku­mail to con­tact Emily’s par­ents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Ro­mano), and the trio bond awk­wardly in the hos­pi­tal wait­ing room and cafe­te­ria.

The Big Sick wears its eas­ily bro­ken heart on its sleeve and elic­its roar­ing belly laughs from the cen­tral duo’s predica­ment.

The script gen­er­ously dis­trib­utes the best lines be­tween the cast, in­clud­ing Hunter and Ro­mano as de­light­fully pro­tec­tive par­ents with their own re­la­tion­ship woes.

Di­rec­tor Showal­ter nim­bly side­steps genre cliches, al­low­ing the pithy and oc­ca­sion­ally with­er­ing words to speak louder than his ac­tions.

RAT­ING: 9/10

Zoe Kazan and Ku­mail Nan­jiani in TheBigSick.

THE BIG SCREEN

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