This is yet another film that received quite a bit of praise. Whenever this happens I feel bad for the film because it now has a lot more to live up to, but I never let expectation cloud my judgment. In this case I was delighted while watching this film, despite it being mostly formulaic.
Can you imagine a world in which we end up together?
With this film I would like to get through the negatives first. The biggest negative I can offer is just how familiar this film is. Two quirky people fall in love, a secret divides them for a brief period of time, there is a bit of “will they, won’t they”, and in the end they live happily ever after. There are not too many surprises with this film, which is fine, but it is always great to be surprised. When Emily does find out that Kumail has not told her family about their relationship I do believe her reaction was too hasty. As it turns out, in reality (if you did not know, this film is actually based on Kumail’s life) they did not break up.
This is something that was written in for the sake of drama, but in my opinion it would have been refreshing if she did not overreact and break up with him. Another complaint I have of the film is its length. It runs just over 2 hours, and for me that was too much. There are a handful of scenes like the drive-thru scene that felt unnecessary. They are funny scenes, but removing them would have helped the flow of the film. Other than that, this is a remarkably charming film. The draw for me was instantly the chemistry between Kumail and Zoe Kazan’s Emily. They complimented each other very well, and felt so real (Again, based on a true story, but you know what I mean). The entire is exceptional, with the standouts being Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff. Zoe Kazan is playing a similar type of character that she usually does (Ruby Sparks, What If), but she plays that role very well. I know Kumail mainly from Silicon Valley, so I knew he was a funny guy. However, this film had him perform dramatically as well. The scene where he breaks down during his standup routine is phenomenal. I felt the raw emotion pouring out of him, and for me that was the scene that stole the whole film. However, other times I do not think he handled it quite as well. For instance when he is pleading with Emily’s parents to keep her at the hospital. It just did not feel very natural.
It’s okay. We hate terrorists.
One of the more interesting aspects of the film is its depiction of Pakistani culture. I am not too familiar with the culture, but this film certainly intrigued me. I was aware of arranged marriages, but I had no idea just how strict they are. I have yet to find out whether Kumail was actually shunned from his family. From what I have gathered his family’s reaction in the film was exaggerated, so I am sure that was part of it. Something I would like to discuss is Kumail’s relationship with his own culture. I could easily see people misconstruing Kumail’s own feelings about Pakistani culture.
However, I do not see it like that. Kumail clearly adores his culture, but realizes that the culture does not pertain to him. He does not want to be in an arranged marriage, especially since he met someone he truly loves. One of my slight complaints about the film is the resolution between Kumail and his family. The film does give you a bit of closure, hinting that perhaps things will be okay. I would have liked to see a bit more about how this affected his family. There are not nearly enough films that explore cultures such as Pakistani culture. I personally found it incredibly interesting, so I hope more cultures like this are explored in the future. Other than a few moments that landed flat, this is quite a funny film. The comedy feels fresh, and what is most impressive is how the film strikes a perfect balance between the comedy and the drama.
I had a great time watching this film. It may run a bit long and have some small issues, but it is a really good film. Whether you want a comedy to watch with your friends, or a romantic film to watch with a loved one, The Big Sick is a solid film for numerous occasions.