The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani gives a star-making performance in this winning romantic comedy
A regular writing collaborator of David Wain (on the likes of Wet Hot American Summer and The State), Michael Showalter’s own directorial efforts have tended to veer away from absurdist humour towards more grounded comedies with romantic-dramatic registers.
He’s back in dramedy mode for The Big Sick, though writing duty is here left to Emily V Gordon and stand-up/actor Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), who bring to the screen a version of how their real-life relationships began: Pakistani man starts dating white American woman, with cultural differences and family disapproval causing a rift even before the latter ends up in a medically induced coma, courtesy of an unclear illness.
Zoe Kazan plays the film version of Emily, but Nanjiani gets a star-making turn as, well, himself. Strong support comes from Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents, begrudgingly bonding with their daughter’s ex as her fate remains uncertain.
With Wain’s hilarious They Came Together, Showalter helped skewer the American romantic comedy; with The Big Sick, he’s gone and made one of the sweetest, funniest modern examples of the genre.