The Big Sick (2017) – Ace Mini-Review

The Big Sick
Starring: Kumail Nanjaini, Zoe Kazan
Written by: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Directed by: Michael Showalter
U.S.A., 2017

How good is this movie?

I know I should be happy to see a movie that resists the clichés and the stylisation of conventional rom coms. But, the truth is, a little stylisation might have done this movie a lot of good. The dialogue is realistic, but not very interesting; the banter is not clever; and most of the conversations lack emotional punch. I couldn’t tell if the two leads were bad, or just really good at acting like emotionally shallow adolescents. Either way, I never felt much investment in their characters or their relationship. It’s a relief when Holly Hunter and Ray Romano show up, as they prove to be much better actors and much more engaging characters. The scene where Beth confronts a heckler in a nightclub is easily the best in the movie.

How ace is this movie?

Kumail and Emily’s courtship is almost self-consciously un-romantic. They meet in a comedy club where they get pissy with each other over the issue of heckling. Their banter is probably meant to be flirtatious, but they really come off as two people who don’t like each other. They have sex the same night, though, because… they’re characters in a rom com? Sex goes on to play a central role in their relationship. Indeed, at times it seems to be the only thing they enjoy doing together – the rest of their time is mostly spent arguing. Still, it’s not like the quality of the sex is emphasised or like they fall in love because of sex. Emily and Kumail break up early in the film, she spends half the movie in a coma, and even at the end the status of their relationship is ambiguous. In fact, you could argue that the real love story is the one between Kumail and Emily’s parents. This is by far the more interesting relationship, and the one that dominates the film’s middle section. Moreover, Emily is far from being the only important thing in Kumail’s life. Kumail’s troubled relationship with his family is also a big part of the story. And when Emily rejects him, Kumail moves to New York with his friends rather than waiting around for her to take him back. In the end, the film is about romance, but it is also about friendship, culture, religion, and family.

2.5 Stars; 3 Aces

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