The Big Sick (2017 Showalter)

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book

15 years ago, my Aunt died of breast cancer, she was 45.  The family rallied around during her final days at home and when she passed we all dispersed like the seeds of a flower on the wind.  Her sister, my Aunt Gail, decided it was time to see the country.  She and my uncle had raised their kids and completed the traditional, responsible portion of their time on the planet.  Watching my Aunt die, changed their perception of time.  Their home went on the market and an RV arrived in its place.  For one year, they traveled the country making a new home each day in another location.

The loss of my Aunt, so young and alive, changed my life forever.  I was 30 at the time and a voice in my head repeated, if I only have 15 years left, what would I do?  The answer was clear, see the world, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, North Africa, Scotland, Hungary, Japan, and anywhere the mind could imagine.  The death of one caused a ripple effect in the lives of many.

The Big Sick is a beautiful film about realizing the value of life in the nick of time.  The comedic timing of Kumail Nanjiani invites us in to view his budding romance with Emily (Zoe Kazan).  The actor is playing a film version of himself based on real events that happened to his wife Emily V. Gordon.  The punchlines are timely with Uber jokes and jabs at modern American racism.  The humor delicately lifting up a mirror to allow us to laugh at our own prejudices.  It is a love story between a boy and a girl, between parents and children, between coworkers.  On my walk home from the theater, I felt warm inside reflecting on the film.  This small production with its rich character development reminds us to release ourselves from the cage of rituals and beliefs we attribute so much value to.

It is hard to imagine a movie where one of the main characters disappears into a coma for half of the movie.  However, the performances of the supporting cast are so strong that we almost forget Emily has gone away.  Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are genuine and hilarious as the new breed of aging parents.  Although they object to Kumail’s recent treatment of their daughter, they end up defending and befriending him.  He is welcome into their family just as his own parents are disowning him for choosing to date a “white” girl and failing to agree to an arranged Pakistani marriage.

The Big Sick is not a slick big budget film. It does not push the boundaries of shooting or editing.  What it succeeds at is simply presenting an uplifting, romantic comedy when it could easily have been dark.  We feel for everyone in the film, parents and children equally and leave with a clear message: live life now, to its fullest, and be honest and true to yourself and others.

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