Editor’s Note: The Big Sick is currently playing in limited theatrical release.
The romantic comedy genre has been around since the beginning of time. Ranging from the classic films of Charlie Chaplin, to the many Nancy Meyers films, the genre has definitely grown to something new over the past few years. Whereas the early 2000’s were the age of high-budget romantic comedies that starred high profile stars, we’ve seen a new revolution over the past few years. The indie film circuit has pumped out an impressive amount of films in the genre – and some of them have been extraordinarily well-made. But, for a genre as old as this one, it’s often difficult to find a new direction – a unique voice with which to tell stories. Yet, Michael Showalter has proved his talents in the genre with his pleasantly surprising film, The Big Sick.
The Big Sick is being met with overwhelming praise, and rightfully so. It’s inverted the formula for the genre, all the while telling an engaging, interesting story.
The hardest thing about making a romantic comedy, invariably, is finding something new to talk about. Over the years, we’ve seen the same formula – boy meets girl, they fall in love, there’s a conflict, and then there’s the resolution. And even within the bounds of this formula, many directors have made incredible films, just by changing the smaller details of the story to make their films different in some way. With The Big Sick, Showalter doesn’t only change the details of the story, but rather, he changes the formula itself. With an indie film such as this one, there is generally less risk involved when it comes to pleasing everyone that’s seeing the film, implying there is likely more artistic freedom with the way the story’s told, and what exactly the story is.
The Big Sick tells the story of an interracial relationship, and the struggles that come with the barriers of religious tradition, even for individuals who don’t necessarily practice or believe in that religion. It begs the question of whether it’s more important to keep yourself happy, or to keep those around you happy, and that’s ultimately the conflict of the entire story. The beauty of it is in the way the lead character, Kumail, navigates around what his family and peers expect of him. On the surface, the film looks to be just a typical, formulaic romantic comedy, but we soon come to find that it doesn’t follow the formula - it’s more about self discovery, and self-acceptance.
The Big Sick is being met with overwhelming praise, and rightfully so. It’s inverted the formula for the genre, all the while telling an engaging, interesting story. I believe everybody that watches this film can connect with some aspect of it, and that’s why everybody is in love with it. The audience soon understands that the romance between Kumail (Kumail Nanjiana) and Emily (Zoe Kazan) is only a minor part of the film – The Big Sick is a film about so much more.
The Big Sick is an engaging and interesting indie film that pushes the boundaries of the romance genre.