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BIG SICK, THE

SYNOPSIS: A couple (Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan) has to deal with their cultural differences as their relationship grows - and hits the rocks. (Based on a true story.)

Review by Louise Keller:
The humour is dark and the laughs abundant in this fresh and funny romantic comedy that tackles love, dreams and arranged marriages. Drawing from real life, actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani and screenwriter Emily Gordon have penned an original and hilarious screenplay, filled with bittersweet truths and a subversive viewpoint. The result is a delicious, highly entertaining, laugh out loud film that explores emotions and behaviour and makes us scratch our heads at the complexity of the human condition.

Set in the world of comedy stand-up, the relationship between Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and Emily (Zoe Kazan) begins with a heckle. They bond over a classic horror movie (Kumail's passion), childhood reflections (Emily's nickname was 'Beetlejuice') and a two-day dating rule. The endearing nature of the first evening together firmly bonds us with both characters, whose relationship is push-pull all the way.

Kumail is a Pakistani Uber driver who aspires to be a stand up comic; Emily is going to be a therapist. The fact that Kumail uses his Pakistani roots as the basis of his humour on stage is established from the outset, using cricket, Rogan Josh and history to punctuate his dry, dark humour. His secret is that his Muslin family expect him to marry a Pakistani girl and the procession of sari-clad Pakistani girls who 'just drop by' at home when the family is seated at the dinner table, is very funny. As the pile of photos of potential brides is hidden in a cigar box, Kumail and Emily find themselves 'overwhelmed' by each other, before the relationship tumbles into crisis.

But then life throws a curved ball and the storyline takes a surprising direction, involving a hospital and the arrival of Emily's parents Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano), who have their own relationship issues. Watch out for the 'love isn't easy' sequence, as Kumail and Terry bunk down together for the night.

Firmly endowed with the Judd Apatow brand of humour, director Michael Showalter manages all the material perfectly, blending humour, pathos, tragedy and fun like a perfect bouquet. Much of the film's success relies on the chemistry between the two central characters and Nanjiani and Kazan ignite sparks in each other. But all the performances are excellent - the contrast between the two families is nicely drawn. The humour is quirky and the dramatic curve unexpected as the exposition plays out; I love the scene involving the 'bag of devotion', which is both memorable and moving. The title is a clever play on words and as for the ending, it is simply delightful.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Plagiarising their real life experiences on the road to romance, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon have written a screenplay that oozes with the black comedy of life, which is of course the good oil of strong comedy. Comedy with feelings, with drama and the potential for breaking lives. Many people have love stories with turbulent beginnings (and endings) but it's the peculiarities of the exact details that makes each one unique. Unique on screen is good.

Not only have they scripted a genuinely funny, moving and entertaining film, they have made their story matter to us. Of course, that is partly thanks to the actors, and Nanjiani is perfectly cast as ... Nanjiani. I suspect it's not that easy to perform one's own character effectively. Zoe Kazan is terrific as Emily, drawing us in with her heart, her sincerity and her sense of humour.

Kumail keeps Emily a secret from his Pakistani Muslim family, who are busy trying to find him a nice Muslim girl to marry and believe he is a devout Muslim, praying five times a day. Thus the scene is set for that inevitable moment of truth, which is drama tinged with comedy and the perfect bookend for the scene where Emily finds an old cigar box full of the photos of the Pakistani girls paraded through the Nanjiani home. This two-pronged secret is at the bottom of the crash of relationships and we wonder how they will all extricate themselves - if at all.

When Emily is rushed to hospital, it's the start of a serious part of the story about the fragility of life and the way the screenplay navigates this is exactly how they did it in real life. And that's why it works.

Wonderful performances from all the parents and all the hospital staff underpin a life affirming yet authentically painful story with the kind of resolution that makes hope a worthwhile exercise. Highly recommended.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BIG SICK, THE (M)
(US, 2017)

CAST: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler

PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel

DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter

SCRIPT: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brian Burgoyne

EDITOR: Robert Nassau

MUSIC: Michael Andrews

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brandon Tonner-Connolly

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 3, 2017







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