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Release Date: 05/05/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Comedy. Romance.

Studio: Shout! Studios

"In London, an award-winning film-maker documents her best friend's journey into an assisted marriage in line with his family's Pakistani heritage. In the process, she challenges her own attitude towards relationships." 


What’s Love Got To Do With It? is a charming romantic comedy that centers less on the relationship between its romantic leads, and more on their individual lives that prevent them from seeing the chemistry between them. Screenwriter Jemima Khan’s debut is witty and honest, speaking to the emotional rollercoaster of being deeply lonely. Zoe (Lily James) is a single documentarian from London, who decides to document her childhood best friend and next door neighbor Kaz (Shazad Latif) journey into an assisted marriage in line with his Pakistan culture. The film sports stellar performances from James and Latif, and is a moving tale of how family shapes our view of love.


From the story level, What’s Love Got to Do with It? is honest and real. Khan’s script manages to capture the many struggles that come from searching for a life partner, from two completely different life perspectives in Zoe and Kaz. While Kaz is caught up in doing what his family wants for him, trying to find love along the way in an arranged relationship, Zoe actively seeks to avoid depth in her relationships. Zoe achieves this by pushing away the veterinarian, Sam (Ben Ashenden), that Cate is setting her up with and using online dating services and one-night stands, creating emotional walls to stave off any romantic partner. This juxtaposition is the core of the film, as we watch how these characters attempt to find romantic fulfillment in their actions, while dancing around each other and their own romantic history because they come from 2 very different backgrounds, displayed perfectly by Cate’s subconscious, and non-malicious, racist actions throughout the film. The film isn’t afraid to look at the dark side of relationships, at the ways romance can fall apart and the ways that people try to navigate loving their partner. This is best shown in the B-plot with Zoe’s friend, Helena (Alice Orr-Ewing), who discovers her husband, Harry (Peter Sandys-Clarke) is having an affair. This B-plot is composed of 6 scenes throughout the film, but it complicates Zoe’s journey and view of herself when she goes home with (unknown to her) a married man from the club, and we see the relationship between Helena and Harry evolve on a double date between them and Zoe and Sam. It’s a B-plot that serves the plot events of the film very little, but it challenges Zoe’s own perspective on love, while being deeply honest to real world relationships.


This is elevated by director Shekhar Kapur, who adds layers to the cultures represented in the film. The film is set in London and Pakistan, and Kapur’s skill shines through when contrasting the two cultures. The set & costume design changes drastically, as does the camera, which becomes much more lively during the sequences set in Pakistan and around the Khan family's weddings, while in London the camera often looks on from a distance, observing the events from a safe, unattached view. Cinematographer Remi Adefarasin taps into each scene's emotion in the framing and lighting, and it supports the strong script by Jemina Khan. That script is the starting point for the cast as well, who are all excellent in their roles. Lily James and Shazad Latif have great chemistry as actors, and it shows in their scenes together. They both tap into their characters and their headspaces perfectly, and it sells what the film is doing thematically. Emma Thompson hams it up as Cate, giving a horrifically accurate portrayal as a mid-60s white woman, and her natural charisma lets the accidentally racist things Cate do play as jokes instead of horror. Asim Chaudhry plays Mo the Matchmaker, and is another great comic relief character who leans into the exaggerated nature of Mo perfectly. Jeff Mirza, Shabana Azmi, and Pakiza Baig do great work as Zahid Khan, Aisha Khan, and Nani Jan Khan, the parents and grandmother of Kaz. They have the sincerity and stage presence needed to add pressure to their scenes, and it allows Kaz’s storyline to thrive.


The only core drawback to "What’s Love Got to Do with It" is its audio mixing, which often drowns out lines of dialogue between the actors and the background sounds and score by Nitin Sawhney. As well, there are a plethora of lines spoken in Urdo, that weren’t subtitled for English audiences, which lose their impact on a viewer who isn’t familiar with the language.

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