What’s Love Got To Do With It? – movie review

What’s Love Got To Do With It? is an unfortunate title considering the other film of the same name documents Tina Turner’s relationship with her horribly abusive husband. Nevertheless, it’s apt for this rom-com with its focus on the pros and cons of arranged marriages – or in this case assisted marriage.

Zoe (Lily James) and Khazim (Shazad Latif) have grown up next door to each other in London, and when the latter announces he’s going to let his Pakistani Muslim parents assist in finding him a suitable marriage mate, Zoe is shocked. How can a modern guy buy into something so outdated? A documentary filmmaker, Zoe – herself unlucky in love – sees an opportunity for her next project. She sets out filming the process as Khazim’s well-meaning parents begin the search for the future Mrs. Right.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? is a rom-com but as with a lot of movies in the genre, there’s not a lot of the ‘com’ part. Sure, there are some slightly amusing moments but it’s more of a lighthearted drama. As for the ‘rom’ part, well, are we ever in doubt that Zoe and Khazim will end up together? Normally that would be obvious in every scene, but the film does take you on a few different paths so that you’re not sure if it will head in the predictable direction.

It’s interesting that the script was written by Jemima Khan, ex-wife of former Pakistani cricketer and PM, Imran Khan. She’s a journalist and producer but this is her first credit as a screenwriter. Of course, with her background, she’s got a lot of the requisite cultural knowledge and experience to treat the subject matter sensitively while still making fun of the traditions Khazim’s family cling to.

Working Title co-produced the project, and indeed Richard Curtis could have penned the script (of course he did Love, Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral). The director is Shekhar Kapur, who’s helmed prestigious projects such as Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and back in the 1990s directed the shocking Indian film, Bandit Queen. What’s Love Got To Do With It? is a world away for him.

James and Latif are nice enough together but don’t have the irresistible chemistry really needed to make this compelling repeat viewing. Emma Thompson is always good value, but she borders on caricature here as Zoe’s flaky mother, who tries to hook her up with her vet after her beloved pooch starts pooing out the yellow plastic gloves he’s chewed up.

A very colourful, festive wedding scene in Pakistan is a highlight, and all through it’s a joy to hear the score by the prodigious Nitin Sawhney. There’s a very moving scene towards the end that might just make you shed a tear or two, and all in all, it’s ‘pleasant’ and a little bit different, so could be worth the admission price for some fun escapism.

Vicki Englund

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