True story of interracial couple inspires Avon meet-up film

August 9, 2017 GMT

“The Big Sick” has proven there is still lots of life in the romantic comedy, if filmmakers avoid the worn-out formulas of the genre.

The independent film has grossed $20 million in limited release, with word of mouth strong among all demographics. Our Avon screening was on one of the hottest nights of the summer, and was competing against a large street fair, but some members of the small audience applauded when the end credits began.

The story of the ups and downs of a Chicago interracial couple was written by real-life husband and wife Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, based on their own dating experiences, which were interrupted by Gordon’s serious illness. Nanjiani plays himself and Zoe Kazan plays Emily.

A good portion of the movie is devoted to the emotional bond that forms between Kumail and Emily’s parents (played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) while she is in a medically induced coma.

Emi Battaglia, Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.:

In a sea of big-budget summer action films, I was thoroughly delighted to find this gem of a film. The writing is very smart. And the film was very realistic in showing how an interracial couple has to deal with their cultural differences. It was an added bonus to find Holly Hunter and Ray Romano in the film. I thought they were both brilliant.

John Bonazzo, Trumbull:

“I loved it. The script did a great job of treating a dark subject with humor and heart, which makes sense since the couple wrote it after going through the experience themselves. Kumail Nanjiani was a great lead, making us care not only about his girlfriend’s predicament, but about his own struggles with overbearing parents and Pakistani culture. Zoe Kazan was wonderful and winning as the girlfriend. I loved Holly Hunter’s salty sense of humor and Ray Romano’s drier delivery. He also has a few quieter moments with Kumail that really hit home.”

Marion Beale, Greenwich:

“I loved it. I was delighted to learn at the end that it was based on a true experience. Both actors playing the couple were adorable, and I enjoyed Ray Romano. He was playing his usual role, but it worked. I found Holly Hunter’s performance very distracting instead of her usual sensational (performances) because she has had her face stretched out so much; it’s strange and expressionless. What a shame!”

Ken Staffey, Bridgeport:

“The movie showed from several different angles that love is love. It can take different forms. We don’t have arranged marriages (like the Pakistanis in the film), but you don’t always choose who you love. It’s a force we can’t control. But it’s not a message movie, and it deals with tragedy in the middle. A little long, but well done.”

JMeyers@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @joesview