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THE BIG SICK review by Sean Fallon

THE BIG SICK (Amazon Studios/Lionsgate ) 2h 4m . Theatrical release June 23,2017.

 

The movie THE BIG SICK is a romantic comedy based on the true story of comedian Kumail Najiani, and his romantic encounter with Emily V. Gordon. Set primarily in Chicago, THE BIG SICK delves deep into the internal conflict experienced by the self-portrayed Kumail Najiani (t.v.’s SILICON VALLEY;H.B.O.). He comes from a Pakistani Muslim culture, yet falls for Emily a white American, convincingly played by Zoe Kazan. Kumail’s inner turmoil is not of a personal religious nature, as he is not strong in his faith, but it is in knowing that his family would not merely disapprove of Emily not being a Muslim, but would outright disown Kumail if he chooses Emily over his family’s cultural tradition of arranged marriages between Muslims.

 

When Kumail and Emily first meet, they are not forthcoming towards each other about major issues that could adversely impact their relationship. Emily initially fails to mention that she had been previously married, while Kumail fails to mention that his parents are constantly trying to set him up with Muslim women to marry, and would never approve of his relationship with her. When Emily finds out that Kumail could not realistically see a future with Kumail and Emily together, their relationship comes to an unpleasant end.

 

Soon, Emily is hospitalized with an undiagnosed condition. Kumail finds out, and under the influence of a doctor, claims to be Emily’s husband, granting him permission to sign a paper consenting for the hospital to place Emily into a medically induced coma, for the sake of diagnosing and curing her ailment. Soon, Emily’s parents arrive at the hospital, enhancing the quality of the production with excellent acting performances by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter.

 

 

The window that the movie provides into Islamic culture is one that requires further clarity, if the viewing audience is intended to take away a positive perspective. Islamic parents disowning their children for religious reasons paints Allah, the Islamic understanding of the God of Abraham, as being a god who is ultimately unloving and disinterested in the well-being of his children, and merely requires obedience for his own sake. This is very different from the Christian understanding of our all-loving God whose love never fades, no matter how far we have strayed, a God who wills for all to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth, a God who so loves the world that He sent His only son, so that he who believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life, a God who we can refer to as “Our Father.” These two very different views of God, however, could be shown as reflecting the different views that Ishmael and Isaac had towards Abraham, Ishmael being the child of a slave woman, with Isaac being the beloved free-born son of the promise of God.

 

While making light of ISIS in stand-up comedy is in extremely poor taste, and truly good comedy does not require profanity, the movie definitely will have the audience laughing at various parts, while also captivating the audience with the emotionally deep drama of the plight of Emily in the hospital. It is there where the audience will truly be captivated by the story, pulling for a positive outcome for all involved. I recommend this movie for mature audiences. Beyond the high entertainment value, it brilliantly demonstrates how cultural clashes disturb both internal and external tranquility, yet conveys a tone that desires for true love to overcome.

 

The real Life Husband & Wife

-Sean Fallon

See the official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z_o-8pkiVo

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