Opening Night Gala | 2017 | 119 minutes
Stranger Says: This year’s opening-night selection comes with a few red flags attached (rom-com set in the world of stand-up, etc.), but haters be damned. The true story of Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, Portlandia) and his real-life wife Emily Gordon’s tumultuous courtship is hilarious, warm, and genuinely affecting—a best-case scenario in every department. The cross-cultural differences at the center of the story are written and played with empathy and truth, and the performances (especially from Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Adeel Akhtar) are deep, surprising, and bursting with multidimensional humanity. (SEAN NELSON)
SIFF Says:Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (the film’s writers and a real-life couple), The Big Sick depicts the modern culture clash of the Pakistan-born Kumail’s relationship with an American woman. What begins as a one-night stand with grad student Emily, expertly played by Zoe Kazan (Meek’s Cutoff), quickly blossoms into a real relationship―one complicated by Kumail’s traditional Muslim parents. With his parents’ expectations resting heavily on his shoulders (they constantly try to set him up with Pakistani women for an arranged marriage) Kumail treads carefully through the world of dating and stand-up comedy. But when Emily suddenly comes down with a mysterious illness, Kumail is forced to deal with the crisis with her own parents, comedically played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. With so much comedy talent in front of and behind the camera, producers Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel and director Michael Showalter (The State, Hello, My Name Is Doris) steadily guide us through writer/star Nanjiani’s (Silicon Valley) autobiographical and uniquely Pakistani story of love, fear, and one-man shows.
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