Struggling to write my thoughts out for The Big Sick may come as a surprise. A biopic about how comedian Kumail Nanjiani met his future wife and the trouble they went through, the ecstatic highs and the untimely lows. It sounds just like my cup of tea, a biopic that attempts to blend comedy with heart-breaking drama all in a nicely rounded film from director Michael Showalter. The Big Sick touches on a lot of themes and aspects that I find rather interesting in film. Nanjiani himself is a funny guy, so diving into his mindset through one of the more difficult moments of his life is tremendously interesting. I didn’t expect much depth or excitement, but colour me surprised, it’s actually very, very good.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see that Nanjiani does indeed star as himself in this biopic of his life. Delving into the cultural divide between him and his American counterparts, sprinkling a couple of romantic and dramatic seeds along the way, The Big Sick is an intensely well-structured piece of film. Touching upon the culture shock Nanjiani struggles with provides a lovely backdrop to a romantic storyline that takes some minorly unexpected twists and turns. It’s nothing insanely different to what you’d see in a generic romantic drama, but that added layer of realism really helps the story along a great deal. It provides an ease of access, a connection that couldn’t be there if it were fictionalised.
A tremendous supporting cast does most of the heavy lifting, setting the stage for Nanjiani to steal the show. Seeing the resurgence of Ray Romano has been, quite honestly, been a blessing in disguise. He’s an incredible talent and he shows such here. Opposite Holly Hunter, she and Romano have some excellent chemistry, a supporting pair that bring out the best in leading characters Kumail and Emily (Zoe Kazan). The Big Sick offers not just Nanjiani a place to spread his acting abilities, but the entire cast comes out of this looking tremendously competent and rather well on the whole. Kazan seems to be the weakest of the bunch though, dependent on the strength of Nanjiani’s performance. She has a few highlighting moments, sprinkled away in a film that presents a power and culture struggle, but far fewer than she should’ve received.
The Big Sick is a great blend of comedy, drama and true story. A trio that go together with relative ease nowadays is presented to us in a rather contemporary, basic way. It doesn’t need to do more than that though, providing a feverishly engaging storyline, a great script filled with both touching and hilarious moments. Couple that with a stunningly strong cast, and you have yourself a film that revels in its misery meets comedy methodology.