The Big Sick ★★★★½

The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani's writing and starring debut, is a wonderful addition to the banner year 2017 has already been for male South Asian artists. Between this film, Hasan Minhaj's Homecoming King, and Aziz Ansari's Master of None, I'd say my life and personality are well represented on screens big and small. And these stories are being consumed not only by South Asian men like me but becoming part of American cultural conversation. They're not flawless, no art is, but they're welcomed additions to the slate of cultural content we consume in the US. Sorely lacking, though, are the stories of South Asian women.

The Big Sick is a great romantic comedy, reminiscent of the conversational, acerbic, hits of the late '80s and early '90s like When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. What Nanjiani lacks as an actor, he makes up for in his writing and comedic chops. The film is full of laughs, earnest, well earned and masterfully interwoven into dialog and exposition. It is also a great Chicago film. Chicago, especially the role the suburbs play, is well depicted here. If Joe Swanberg is the current king of capturing Chicago, Nanjiani pulled a few tricks of his own.

Michael Showalter's presence as a director is hardly noticeable, save for a few odd framing, blocking and camera distance choices. Films like these - where the writer's story is so front and center - really throw a wrench into the auteur theory's insistence on director as primary auteur.