What’s love got to do with it? – Film Review

What’s love got to do with it? – Film Review
by Frank L

Directed by Shekhar Kapur

Jemima Goldsmith, who was married to Imran Khan, the famous Pakistani cricketer and former President of Pakistan, wrote the screenplay of this romantic comedy which grapples with the various debates that occur in relation to arranged marriages in comparison to those inspired by love. The film begins in a leafy West London suburb where a successful Pakistani family live. Their son, a young doctor, Kazim (Shazad Latif) has been since childhood a good friend of filmmaker Zoe (Lily James) who lives next door with her divorced mum Cath (Emma Thompson), who is exuberant but more often than not a bit of an embarrassment to say the least.

With considerable style, the film describes the friendly relationships that exist between Zoe and Cath and their neighbours the Khans. His parents Aisha (Shabana Azmi) and Zahid (Jeff Mirza) are proud, successfully integrated (in many ways) first-generation immigrants. Out of the blue Kazim tells Cath he is going to get married. When she enquires to whom, he tells her it is being arranged. A clear cultural division now enters the equation. Cath then decides that the processes and traditions associated with an arranged marriage would be a good subject for her next film and Kazim’s participation in particular will be her prototype.  There are subplots in relation to Zoe’s film agents, an issue with Kazim’s sister who married without parental approval a non-Muslim and Cath’s endless attempts at matchmaking for Zoe. But the film primarily concentrates on the different protocols that surround an arranged marriage and one based on so-called “love” and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

The script is witty and Thompson has a ball playing the part of Cath. The acting of the other principals is a joy and James as Zoe never misses a beat. The film certainly makes an arguable case for arranged marriages which it is worthwhile to remember were in the Western world, not that long ago, commonplace amongst the various European royal families and indeed various echelons of the aristocracy. It is not as alien a concept as it is often portrayed nowadays. One of the joys of the film is the vibrancy of the colours that surround a wedding in Pakistan. It is a kaleidoscope of colour.

However, as the story seeks to come to a conclusion it becomes less sure-footed and the dynamic of the film alters. The storyline changes gear and becomes more centred on Western values. It is important to remember that it is a romantic comedy and that Jemima Khan has no doubt a better understanding than most of the tricky issues that the film raises. As a romantic comedy, it is worth a visit and enjoyable. As an insight into arranged marriages, it is unlikely to be the definitive answer.


Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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