Thursday 10 August 2017

Film: 'The Big Sick'

The hiatus in my cinema-going was not caused by the continuing tumult in my life, but rather by there being little showing that I fancied. This one has generally had above-average reviews so, despite thinking that it wasn't 'my kind' of film, thought I'd give it a go. Verdict: a little above so-so.

I didn't know the name of any of the participants save one, nor of director Michael Showalter. 
Pakistani-born actor Kumail Nanjiani plays himself in this film which he's co-written with his real-life wife, Emily V. Gordon. 
He's an aspiring stand-up comedian playing a small club in Chicago when one of the audience (Zoe Kazan) attracts his attention and romance ensues. It's awkward because his family, particularly his mother, but father as well, is determined to see an arranged marriage for him, she calling in a succession of marriageable young Pakistani ladies to 'drop by' during their family dinners, hoping that he'll take enough of a fancy to one of them to pursue a romance. Meanwhile he keeps his involvement with the American young woman secret for fear of his family's hostility. Then suddenly she's struck down by a virulent infection and placed in a medically-induced coma so she can be subjected to surgery. Her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, both exceptionally fine) not knowing of her romance, are initially cold towards Nanjiani as they don't recognise his concern. However, and as you might guess, the ice between them melts and in time they are as close as the younger man could wish. 
For half of the film, the Zoe Kazan daughter character is in this coma while the predicament of Nanjiani is played out, he having to walk a tightrope between his very real worry for her and keeping their affair from his family. 

I was disappointed that the final half hour of this two-hour film is awash with heavy, unrelieved sentiment, something I find very hard to take in large doses like this. (I appreciate that others do not share my resistance). 
Also, there is a disturbing number of lapses of continuity. Don't they watch the rushes or don't they care? They are so glaring as to be distracting that I was actively looking for the next one for much of the film's length. 

Having said that, I have to say that I found the script a superior one. Although I started out by feeling a degree of irritation towards the main characters, I did quite soon warm to them, such that I was curious as to how the story - commendably original - would develop. 
Direction was okay, I suppose, but director Showalter ought to have been more attentive to avoiding those visual continuity clangers (which perhaps most people wouldn't notice).

I reckon that most people will like this enough to recommend it, and if my 'enthusiasm' is lukewarm at max, I'd just about go along with that...................6.


  1. It was the superior script that made the film. The girl's parents both had some classic lines and their appearance bucked the film up no end. I don't know a lot else about what you were saying, can't remember continuity problems but if you say so I bow to your superior knowledge. The last half-hour was certainly a half-hour too far and the film was definitely a 90 minuter. I would give it a 7.5. Thanks for the review. I thought you were never going to get to see it!

    1. Just caught it before it disappeared into TV/DVD world, Rachel.
      Glad you agree about the parents of the girl, as well as the final 30 mins dragging it down.
      It's been said a number of times that I've seen 'too many' films - though how one can see TOO many is beyond me. But what is meant is that when one has seen an awful lot one gets more attuned to cinematic convention, which can be exasperating, as well as noticing details that others may not - and the latter is what I meant by continuity errors, specifically, when the angle of sight changes and one sees the characters in quite different poses than they were a split second previously. Being especially sensitive to such has the disadvantage of being distracted from the conceit of the film itself - it's a double-edged sword.

    2. "Too many films"? Pfft! That's like saying "too many books." No such thing.

  2. Replies
    1. I think you might have to run to catch it, Elle. But do try.

  3. We saw this one and enjoyed it, but, yeah, maybe you're right about the last half-hour.
    Sometimes I think there's filler to stretch it out to "movie"length.

    1. High marks for originality, Bob, as also for the parents (BOTH sets of, in fact), but for me these pluses were off-set by the 'downers' which I've detailed. I can't honestly 'blame' anyone for liking the film more than I did. Could just as easily be my own judgment that's lacking.