News from the Locarno Festival

Prix du Public UBS – The Big Sick

Prix du Public UBS – The Big Sick


Laughter and tears are a powerful combination, likely to win an audience’s heart when used correctly. Such is the case of The Big Sick, the Sundance hit that wowed the Piazza Grande crowd enough to win the Prix du Public UBS. Produced by Judd Apatow (Trainwreck) and directed by Michael Showalter (Hello, My Name Is Doris), this romantic comedy-drama struck a chord with its touching true story, based on how Pakistani actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani met his wife Emily V. Gordon (who wrote the script with her husband and is played in the film by Zoe Kazan, with her last name changed to Gardner). Love, sickness, awkward family situations and racial humor form a cohesive whole that never outstays its welcome, gaining in poignancy as Nanjiani, playing a fictionalized version of himself, faces the prospect of losing the love of his life to a mixture of health issues and Pakistani traditions he never believed in. Strong support is lent by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter on the one hand and Kurt Braunohler and Aidy Bryant on the other, with both the family and the stand-up comedy angles receiving painfully real treatments. At the center of it all, though, is Kazan, with a performance that gains more power via her absence and gives the film an emotional core that leaves no audience member unmoved. The award voted for by the Piazza Grande attendees is a testament to the virtues of the best kind of independent entertainment, represented in this case by a film that touchingly pokes fun at its own status as a “feel-good” movie.

Max Borg
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