27 September 2023

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Shekhar Kapur, StudioCanal.

It’s a rhetorical question, but one this film succeeds in answering commendably. What’s Love Got to Do With It? not only motivates and persuades, but it is also designed to be educational.

Here’s a lively cross-cultural romantic comedy about marriage, set between London and Lahore. The movie’s screenwriter Jemima Goldsmith Khan was married for nine years to former cricket star Imran Khan Niazi, who was Prime Minister of Pakistan from August 2018 to April 2022.

Jemima believes there is a lot to learn from the idea of “walking into love” rather than falling into it, heart first.

This rom-com (from the makers of Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral) is a pitch perfect ballad for emotions. It follows a filmmaker who decides to document her best friend’s journey toward arranged nuptials. It’s a story of love, friendship, tradition and image breaking.

How do you find lasting love in today’s world? For documentary-maker and dating app addict Zoe (Lily James, Rebecca, Cinderella, Darkest Hour), swiping right has only delivered an endless stream of Mr. Wrongs, to the dismay of her eccentric mother Cath (Emma Thompson, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande). For her childhood friend and neighbour Kaz (Shazad Latif, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), the answer is to follow his parents’ example and opt for an arranged (or ‘assisted’) marriage to a bright and beautiful bride from Pakistan.

Zoe wonders if she can learn something about an extremely different approach to finding love while filming his journey to marry a stranger. Zoe conveys a longing and susceptibility, while using her camera as a shield between her subjects and her own personal qualms. She does, however, share an easy chemistry with Kaz.

Striking a tender balance between respect for cultural customs and belief in the power of romance, What’s Love Got To Do With It? offers an emotional take on the notion of romance and finding that special someone.

While there’s no connection to the Tina Turner biopic of the same name, this multicultural journey is directed with sensitivity by Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, Bandit Queen) and brightly filmed by Remi Adefarasin (Elizabeth, Everest). As Kapur puts it: “The yearning for intimacy, for love, does not belong to one identity, but to all of us. It’s universal.”

  • What’s Love Got To Do With It? is screening at Limelight Cinemas

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