BRINGING YOU THE BEST IN ROMANCE FICTION
Perhaps you’ve heard of the movie The Big Sick, starring Kumail Nanjiani (best known for Silicon Valley) as he copes with his stand-up comedy career, his Pakistani parents, and his girlfriend’s induced coma. It’s billed as a romance and received 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Among the things I found interesting about this movie, and no one would accuse it of being a cookie cutter film so there’s lots to find interesting, was that it moved at a pace more suited to older black-and-white films where relationships and witty repartee are the stars. I’m not saying the dialogue has the quick patter of Clark Gable and Rosalind Russell — it doesn’t — but the formation of the relationship between Kumail and his girlfriend, Emily, relies on what they both say and don’t say. It has genuine moments between the two of them that show a special connection developing. This likely comes from moments shared by the real-life Kumail and his now-wife Emily.
I don’t want to give the impression The Big Sick plays like a documentary tribute to their true story. Sure, you learn about Pakistani culture in the United States and the custom of arranged marriages. You also learn a little bit about starting out as a stand-up comic. However, the bulk of the film is dedicated to the not-obviously-hilarious situation of Emily entering an induced coma. Kumail, who recently argued with Emily, must cope with his first meeting with her parents. The parents are brilliantly played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.
As I mention, the movie is billed as a romance; however, how much romance can there be while the heroine is unconscious in a hospital bed? I’m not complaining. Instead, what we get is a nuanced story about a developing relationship and how Kumail comes to understand and appreciate his relationship to her through observations of his own parents and hers. If witty conversation is the action, then confronting truths about himself and the lies he tells to avoid upsetting situations are the dragons and ogres.
Life isn’t as tidy as movies would have us believe. I’m sure much more went on and moments were moved around for a story that can be digested in two-hours in the theater. I simply appreciate that we were told a story that was new, fresh, and felt truthful to the people involved.
Now, that’s love.