True Story

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.

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Untouchable/The Intouchables (2011)

Untouchable brings together the rather unlikely friendship of Philippe and Driss. The former, a vastly wealthy man bound to his wheelchair due to paralysis from the neck down, the latter a man from the projects. Philippe (played wonderfully by Francios Cluzet) is interviewing for a new carer, with the humdrum of people citing their references at Philippe, and Driss (Again a brilliant performance by Omar Sy), who looks completely out of place in the waiting area, storms in before his name is called. His reason? He is tired of waiting because he is simply wanting a signature so he claim benefit without any interest for the job that he is being interviewed for.

After leaving the supposed interview, an insight to Driss’ life is revealed. He goes home to the projects, a run down block of apartments, where he lives with five or six children running around his feet in a very small apartment. A woman returns, who is assumed to be his mother, is unhappy about the fact he has been missing for six months without hearing from him. Consequently, because of his actions, Driss is kicked out of the apartment.

Driss returns to Philippe’s house for his signature so he can retrieve his benefit, but he is shown around instead of being given his paper. Confused as to what is happening, when he meets Philippe all becomes clear and he is bet that he doesn’t last two weeks caring for Philippe. As it is mentioned that many of the applicants don’t even last a week. This begins their relationship, which shows change, at the beginning a melancholy looking Philippe, is now smiling and laughing with Driss as the rest of the story unfolds. The significance in this relationship is highlighted when Philippe meets with a friend, and says Driss will offer him no pity and Philippe counters that is exactly what he wants.

“That’s exactly it. That’s what I want. No pity.”

Regardless of these ideas that street guys will offer him no pity, Driss becomes compassionate towards Philippe, and genuinely caring for the man. But not only for Philippe, he starts to care for Elisa and her problems, urging Yvonne to try and enjoy herself, especially with the gardener. The companionship that Philippe and Driss form is a real human spirit triumph, in the sense two people from opposite ends of the spectrum can form a bond that good, is impressive. They start to enjoy each other’s company to the point where they become friends, and share details about one another. Ultimately they have a lasting effect on one another.

This effect is that the pair try new things, like Driss, after his earlier astonishment at a painting being sold for 41,500€, begins to paint himself. He manages to paint one and even sells it for 11,000€, with the help of Philippe, but Driss has an effect on Philippe also, with letter relationship with Eléonore. It seems odd to Driss how they only converse through letters, so being proactive, he phones her up and puts Philippe on the phone, much to Philippe’s dismay, but it begins the next step in that relationship. Now Philippe is constantly talking to Eléonore, so much so, that Driss comments that he’s a chatterbox.

The tale of this pair's friendship is wonderful.

This relationship between Driss and Philippe, has all sorts of value to it, but one of them is a comedic value. Mainly because of Driss’ mannerisms towards Philippe, from handing him the phone, to tell him he should be throwing snowballs back. But this involved with the real care that Driss uses with Philippe shows the relationship is something to be cherished also, as is evident when Philippe becomes melancholy again when switching through carers, after Driss leaves with family matters that need to be resolved.

It’s such a genuine film, and it being based on a true story (even though it would’ve been just as enjoyable had it been fictional) the film is such a feel good film. The relationship and bond that Philippe and Driss create and maintain is brilliant. The film all in all, is one to be recommended. The feel good fact of the story, coupled with the humour, the sensitivity shown by Driss towards Philippe regardless of the no pity idea is brilliant. And both of the main roles are wonderfully acted by Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy.

4/5