Romcom

The Big Sick (2017)

Having Judd Apatow’s name appear next to a comedy, the likelihood is that it’s going to be quite good. His name features against some of the better comedies in recent memory, including Anchorman, Superbad and Step Brothers to name a few. Some of these films are a hive for intriguing, but genuine characters.

The Big Sick is the latest film to be attached with the Apatow name, but what I did not anticipate was the true story that revolved about the leading mans love life. Kumail Nanjiana wrote the romantic comedy story and told the story about him and his wife.

Kumail is a stand up comic, but survives day-to-day by being an Über driver around Chicago. As I mentioned, Apatow films often have genuine characters and that what Kumail is. As usual with this sort of comedy, it’s more wit than situation or slapstick comedy, and Kumail is the perfect vehicle for this as he is incredibly deadpan throughout the film.

Regardless of the situation he finds himself in, Kumail remains incredibly deadpan. His first meeting with Emily (Zoe Kazan) is brilliant as they have instant chemistry, which just emits from the screen. Of course, in true romantic comedic style, the newly-formed couple manage to enchant the screen and fill us with the joy of Kumail and Emily enjoying each others company.

But further to a classic romantic comedy trope, what goes up, must come down. They become infuriated with each other and break up, citing that they cannot do it anymore. They both abide, until Emily is placed in a medically induced coma to try and fight a strange infection and Kumail never leaves her side after learning this.

It’s not often that I am caught watching Romantic Comedies, truthfully because they are not my cup of tea, but The Big Sick has proved that there are still new avenues that can be explored in romantic comedies. Michael Showalter chose to explore the culture clash between Pakistani culture and a modern westernised culture that Kumail finds himself being pulled to and from.

Kumail consistently defies his parents wishes, from not praying to playing coy with the meetings with potential brides to appease his parents. This is all the whilst he keeps falling for Emily and their chemistry continues to light up the screen. The believability of this situation comes down to the acting that is on display from Kumail, Zoe and the rest of the cast.

And The Big Sick is incredibly honest for a romantic comedy, majority of the romantic comedies I have seen often fall into a certain farfetched approach to the story, but this one doesn’t. It has Emily acting skittish because she’s got to take a shit and doesn’t want to in Kumail’s house in an incredibly funny scene. But not only this, but the approach to Pakistani culture and recognising that there are people within those families that do not necessarily want to live that way.

On top of this, the film is incredibly funny. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents are excellent with their brashness toward Kumail, but also Kumail’s deadpan jokes. (his response to the 9/11 question had me in stitches I must admit). Showalter was very unapologetic it seemed as the film progressed, but that’s great because it’s opened up fresher avenues for the film to explore through the genre.

For a fresh approach to the romantic comedy genre, you’ll not find a better film than The Big Sick. It’s use of comedy throughout is brilliant, because it relies on wit, rather than situational/slapstick comedy, but the characters at the heart of this film are the winners. It’s because you genuinely want these characters to get together by the end of the film and as always with Apatow films they are genuine characters.

The Big Sick is probably not going to be the best film I have seen this year, but it’ll be the best romantic comedy for sure. It’ll probably include some of the best laughs and characters from films this year and it just shows that Apatow knows his comedies and characters. I still find myself chuckling occasionally at the jokes.

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002)

Nothing of interest happens in the midlands, but Shane Meadows somehow found a way to tell a rather enjoyable story of love, robberies and a cowboy.

Much like Trainspotting this film is very much a working class story, but set in Nottingham. Jimmy (Robert Carlyle) wakes up in Glasgow, living in squalor, to see his sister appear on a show that could only be described as an early noughties Jeremy Kyle. A humiliation of rejected proposal is shown across the nation, as Dek (Rhys Ifans) proposes to Shirley (Shirley Henderson).

maxresdefault-3

Whilst Dek is being rejected, Jimmy is in cahoots with some Glaswegian bit-time crooks that have a knack for stealing the oddest cars going. The first being a stretch mini, the last being a truck with a boat attached to the back. The crooks target a group of clowns and steal a bag from them, in a scene that wouldn’t go amiss in the Arctic Monkey’s Flourescent Adolescent music video. Jimmy decides to take the bag and head for the hills, or rather Nottingham.

Arriving in Nottingham, with a bag that is full of cash, Jimmy has one goal. To win back the affections of his daughter, Marlene, and of course, the love of Shirley. Now from the usual love triangle when a child is involved, the returning competing father usually takes them on a whimsical day that is full of joy and over-consumption of father-daughter bonding scenes. Where does Jimmy take his daughter? To the pub.

By the way, this all stemmed from a relationship issue between Carol and Charlie, an estranged couple trying to mend their marriage via mainstream media.

Shane Meadows has excellently tapped into what families like this are actually like instead of vying for the perfect model family. He showed that typical families go to play bingo and spend nights down the local working men’s club to enjoy a boogie.

maxresdefault-2

The love triangle between Shirley, Dek and Jimmy envelopes this film, but also the Glaswegian crews come a-knocking for Jimmy, which also causes a ruckus. Ifans, Carlyle and Henderson all have that certain chemistry, but also anticipate the awkwardness perfectly between the three during well-timed scenes throughout the film. The rest of the cast backed up by Ricky Tomlinson and Kathy Burke creates the believable working class hero triumph throughout the film, and there is no better man to play the villain then the Glaswegian Prince Robert Carlyle.

I thought it was strange for Meadows to name his Midlands based tale, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, however, all becomes clear over the course of the film. Apart from the obvious Midlands Cowboy Charlie (Ricky Tomlinson) the music that is teased throughout the film has that Western-tinge to it and of course the general story framework, of the hero and villain, Dek and Jimmy, respectively.

maxresdefault-4

Although I’m not entirely certain as to why Shane Meadows made a film regarding Nottingham and the Midlands as a whole, but I’m rather glad he did. Although the film has the romantic comedy story at the centre of it all, it doesn’t weigh to heavy on Once Upon a Time in the Midlands’ shoulders. Considering the onslaught of romantic comedies from the late 90s and early noughties being set in America or London, Meadows setting his in Nottingham is a refreshing change of pace. His choice to instil the comedic flair with Burke and Tomlinson was the correct choice, but also didn’t feel forced in anyway. Everything came natural and seemed natural, which I feel is one of the biggest triumphs of this film.

Delicacy (2011)

Not being a through and through French film enthusiast, but rather an admirer from afar, I thought I would dip my toe in the pool of the French film. I chose Delicacy starring Audrey Tautou, and honestly, I’m not sure why I choose this particular film, but it stood out. And the genre, being a romantic comedy, is another reason I choose it, strangely.

Audrey Tautou plays the delightful Nathalie Kerr, a woman in love with a man named Francois. In romantic comedy fashion, they become engaged and eventually married. I must admit, I find it usually quite humdrum and boring, but with this one, I found it, something I don’t often say, adorable.

What’s a romantic comedy without a splash of tragedy? Well, Delicacy is not one to miss out on this dose as it takes this heartfelt, adorable relationship we see unfolding and takes it away from us as quickly as we were introduced. This of course, spirals sweet, adorable Nathalie into a deep depression in which she locks herself away, in a typical, cliché fashion. She decides after a period of time to stop moping, and, finally go back to work.

Following these scenes, Chloe, a character we were introduced to earlier in the film gives the necessary information, to her co-workers, that is had been three years since Francois’ death and also that Nathalie has become a very work orientated woman, that is all work and no play.

That is until an odd kiss happens, in which she initiates, clearly in a daydream state. She kisses her colleague Markus, this is for me, when the comedy begins to happen, as dazed as the audience, he begins his walk home with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen and an assortment of things happen to him. Due to his uplifting good mood, he comes to his apartment building and it appears he has forgotten the code to get into his apartment building. Now this is pretty damn funny, as he looks around intently trying to remember the code.

When Markus comes to visit Nathalie in the office once more, it becomes clear to him that this relationship becomes a unrequited one, however, this is not enough for the hapless Markus who attempts to court her in a varied scheme. Their relationship eventually starts to blossom as they spend more and more time together, but what’s that without a little bit of trouble, firstly Markus trying to cut Nathalie out of his life for fear of falling in love and the over complication of the boss trying to woo Nathalie too. The gentle attempts are brilliant because they are not extravagant, they are simple and average, something people do in everyday lives, and this is one of the better devices used, as there can be a connection made.

The film is summed up, beautifully, may I add when Markus and Nathalie visit Madeliene, Nathalie’s grandmother. They become very passionate, confirming their relationship more than anything and if that wasn’t enough and didn’t make you feel joyed, they play a game of a hide and seek – a game Nathalie used to play in the same garden – and Markus retraces the different ages of Nathalie. From her youth playing hide and seek, to spending time with Francois and eventually grieving about Francois. Markus, doing the voice over ends the film with “this place in her heart, is where I will hide”. It’s a nice and adequate ending as it shows Nathalie through the relationship with Markus, has begun to enjoy life again, much like when we see the memories shown in this garden of her grandmothers.

It’s a very adorable film and as I said, not my usual taste, but it made me smile almost all the way through. It’s nothing special outside of the romantic comedy, but it certainly isn’t the worst one I’ve seen. Audrey Tautou is beautiful in this film and her co-star Francois Damiens playing Markus is brilliant too, playing a seemingly plain man, but instead at heart is just being a gentleman. The film being simple is possibly the best technique for the Foenkinos brothers, as the simple act of the two characters falling in love, is the thing about this film that makes it special and of course, enjoyable.

I would definitely recommend this film, but it’s not the type of film you would curl up into a ball with a tub of ice cream, but rather the type of film that makes you smile, much like Markus’ smile when he first gets kissed by Nathalie. I wouldn’t say this film does expand on the already known genre of romantic comedies, but it’s certainly one of the best I’ve seen, of the little amount that I have actually seen.