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The Big Sick

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Louise: As a genre, rom coms get a bad rap for being cheesy, cliche and predictable. When you suggested we review this, I was like “come on Lucy, a romantic comedy?” And then I saw how highly rated it was on Rotten Tomatoes so I was like “Okay, I’ll give this a shot.” And guess what? I loved it.

Lucy: I’ve been optimistic ever since the trailer came out and especially after I heard it was written by real life husband and wife – Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon about the start of their relationship. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), a comedian meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his gigs and they begin an on-again off-again romance. When a mysterious illness means Emily is put into a medically induced coma, Kumail is forced to meet her parents for the first time. While dealing with this emotional and often awkward journey Kumail must also contend with his family’s expectations of him.

The film definitely benefited not just by being based on a true story but also by being written by a person on either side of the relationship. It’s not often you get a rom com that is as self aware as this one.

Louise: The first thing that really stood out to me about The Big Sick was its authenticity. So often, comedy scripts are full of gag-heavy, cheesy dialogue, which frustrates the living shit out of me because it’s not how real people talk. But The Big Sick hits this incredible sweet spot where the dialogue and the characters are so real and yet it’s still so funny that I was laughing out loud for the entire film. I felt sorry for the people around me who had to endure my obnoxious scream-laugh.

Lucy: That’s what makes great comedy. You don’t need absurd scenarios and constant smart quips. Life can be crap sometimes but there’s still humour even when you’re being pelted with lemons. Great writers find those moments and use them. Also, how awesome is it to see the women in the movie call out the male romantic lead on his shit and for him respect that?

Louise: One of my biggest bugbears is this fucked-up idea perpetuated in rom coms that when a woman says “no”, it actually means “try harder”. I think it feeds sexual entitlement and stalkery behaviour in the real world. But unlike most male rom com leads, Kumail accepts being rejected without throwing a hissy fit or being a weirdo. Thank fuck for that.

Lucy: Can we also take a minute and just discuss how amazing all of the actors were? Obviously Ninjiani and Zoe Kazan but also the actors playing their respective families. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter’s wonderful portrayal of two grieving parents desperately grasping for some type of control was so perfect. Anybody who has spent time in a hospital has seen these exact characters there. I wish we could’ve seen even more of Kumail’s family. His brother and sister-in-law were adorable and the parents (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher) played the frustration and distance but ultimately love so well.

Louise: Isn’t it refreshing to watch a film where the non-white characters aren’t lazily-written racial stereotypes?

Lucy: It really shows the importance of diversity OFF screen as well as on!

Louise: Ninjiani having written the script from his own perspective about his experiences as an immigrant to the USA paid dividends in authenticity. A white writer couldn’t have achieved that.

Lucy: 100%. I love how Ninjiani doesn’t just show us an immigrant rejecting his culture (as lazy white writers often do),  we also get to see the rest of his family as wonderful, thriving people who practice Islam. And though Kumail is rejecting his family’s expectations for him, he does so without disparaging their beliefs and culture.

Louise: We haven’t said anything negative in this review…

Lucy: Guess that shows what our rating will be then!

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