THE BIG SICK Review — THE BEGUILED Review — Two Fab Indies

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THE BIG SICK Review — THE BEGUILED Review — by Lisa Johnson Mandell

the big sick reviewBecause you don’t need me to tell you that Transformers: The Last Knight is loud, annoying and nonsensical, I think I can best serve you by giving you the skinny on a couple of ambitious indies opening this weekend, in hopes that they’ll come to a theater near you sooner rather than later.


You don’t need to be a big fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley to enjoy this poignant and amusing love story, but it helps…a little. Even if you’ve never seen the award-winning comedy series, you can’t help but become enamored of this tender film, based on the real-life courtship of Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley‘s Dinesh) and Emily V. Gordon.

They meet cute one night after he does a standup routine a comedy club, they start an adorable but tenuous relationship, then break up because his family is insistent that he marry a Pakistani girl. A few days later, Emily falls mysteriously and desperately ill, and it Kumail is the only one who can be with her in the hospital while she’s put into a coma, until her parents (superlatively played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) arrive. I’ll let the script take it from there.

No one is perfect but everyone is likable in this infectious film written by Najiani and Gordon (the protagonists themselves). Director Michael Showalter (Hello, My Name is Doris, Kissing Jesica Stein) could have taken a firmer grip on the editor, but that’s not his style. Most people won’t notice.

And most people won’t notice the sappy, generic score that seems to tinkle through all indie rom coms. (There I just had to mention it, didn’t I?) In spite of those two very minor flaws, this film is actually one of the year’s best so far. If you want to know what budding young relationships look like in America these days, this is the most pleasurable tutorial you’ll ever see.

Rated R

1 Hour 59 Minutes


the beguiled review the big sick reviewYou’ve heard about director Sophia Coppola‘s infinite kudos at Cannes, and about the showy cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst. But can this remake of a 1971 Clint Eastwood movie based on a Southern Gothic novel live up to the hype?

The answer is a resounding YES!

The story unfolds languidly and lushly. Farrell plays a mercenary union soldier fresh off the boat from Ireland, who has been seriously injured and is found in the woods by one of the young students of a girls school that has been reduced to a handful of females fending for themselves on a plantation. She helps him back to the plantation because she feels it’s her “Christian duty,” and in turn, the other women feel compelled to take care of him.

How he responds to their attention, and how they respond to him, is all at once coy, compelling, cunning and creepy, and not necessarily in that order. It’s an unusual and original take on the damages afflicted on all during the Civil War, and it seldom sends you in a direction you expect it to go.

Without giving too much away, the film is a graceful ouroboros, ending where it began, and the symmetry is a work of art.

Rated R

1 Hour 34 Minutes

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THE BIG SICK Review — THE BEGUILED Review — by Lisa Johnson Mandell



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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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