What’s Love Got To Do With It? – Film Review

What’s Love Got To Do With It? – Film Review
by Brian Merriman

Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Screenplay by Jemima Khan
Produced by Jemima Goldsmith, Eric Fellner, Nicky Kentish Barnes, Tim Bevan
Starring: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Sajal Aly, Oliver Chris, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza, Alice Orr-Ewing, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Duration 110 minutes

‘What’s Love Got to do with it?’ newly on release is not the 1993 Tina Turner biopic, but the latest UK romantic comedy directed by Shekhar Kapur, from a screenplay by Jemima Khan.  Styled directly from the accomplished stable of contemporary British film making, that has placed ‘Love Actually’, ‘Four Weddings…’ etc on the eternal list of watchable movies, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With it?’ earns its rightful place in this entertainment gallery, but it is more than entertainment.

The film about ‘Zoe’ a young British woman (Lily James who is on an assured film career path) who documents her Pakistani neighbours’ modern journey towards marriage, through their Doctor son, takes a sideways glance at many cultures.  It exposes cultural differences and convergence in substantial ways, through the perception and practice of marriage. Be it ‘assisted, arranged or promoted by love, Khan’s clever screenplay peels back the many protective public layers of a ‘happy union’.

From the opening sequence, you can probably predict Kazim’s (a strong understated and sincere study by Shazad Latif) eventual outcome. That is reassuring because the journey along the way from London to Lahore teases, challenges, exposes and explains what is too often presumed and misunderstood when we are ‘Continents apart’.

The themes cloaked in the ‘romantic comedy’ genre, also resonate beyond culture and tradition, to explore the many obstacles facing real love in a more modern society. At a time when we are full of channels and opportunities to connect, seek and find, are these enablers or obstacles on that human journey? It reminded me of the Judy Garland hit in ‘Meet Me In Saint Louis’ …’how can I ignore the boy next door?’ And yes, there are many cliches in Khan’s lighter screenplay but the feel-good elements of the genre allow for that.

There is a stellar cast. Aisha Khan (Shabana Azmi) is an elegant, loving and traditional Mother.  Nani Jan is the grumpy grandmother (a wonderful grim-faced Pakisa Baig) whose perspective on race would certainly warrant a second Oprah interview! And Emma Thompson (Zoe’s eccentric Mother) is very over the top and a nice cultural contrast to Oliver Chris’s admirable  ‘James’. The supporting cast is full of talent and portrays all the colour and connection a tree of an extended Khan family could hope for.

This underscoring multi-cultural debate has wonderful episodes of humanity, tradition, comedy, colour, love and priorities. The cultural bridge may not be where you were born, but how far you are prepared to pretend?  You may love this film which will have a long entertaining life, but you will learn something too.



Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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