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A real romance story fascinates America

Posted July. 09, 2018 07:26,   

Updated July. 09, 2018 07:26

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Muslim immigrant parents who expect their son to follow their example of an arranged marriage, and a girlfriend that is in coma. The synopsis is not so intriguing, but the film unfolds love more realistic than “La La Land” and warmer than “Annie Hall.” It is a romantic comedy “The Big Sick” nominated for Best Original Screenplay by the Academy Awards this year.

The lead actor of the film is a standup comedian Kumail Nanjiani who starred in HBO’s hit TV series Silicon Valley. The film captures a real story of him and his wife Emily Gordon. The film is set before he became famous, when he was an Uber driver and an unknown actor. Kumail and Emily (Zoe Kazan) first met as a comedian and audience.

The two people get to know each other in a more realistic way rather than by destiny. They spend a night together, but Emily says, “I am not ready for a relationship.” Kumail also says, “I don’t want to be in a relationship either.” And they decide not to see each other again. Kumail looks at the side mirror of his car and Emily looks out the window. The film wittily underscores realistic sides of romance. The film’s producer Judd Apatow has an impressive filmography that includes “The 40 Year Old Virgin and Begin Again.”

The movie’s cleverness is highlighted even more when Kumail and Emily’s parents first meet after Emily falls in a coma. The film is riddled with jokes satirizing prejudices against the Muslim community. When his brother gets unhappy about him dating a white woman, he says, “It’s ok! We hate terrorists.” There is also a scene where Emily’s mother (Holly Hunter) becomes angry when a white man makes racist comments during Kumail’s comedy show. Kumail and Emily’s parents become closer through honesty and jokes in the worst situation where they could lose Emily.

Woody Allen’s history romantic comedy “Annie Hall” (1977) was filled with a cynical view about love. And “The Big Sick” is also cynical, but it is more humane and warm. It is understandable that this love story raked in 56 million dollars in 17 weeks in North America. I recommend this movie to those who are tired of hackneyed romantic comedies.


Min Kim kimmin@donga.com