Director: Shekhar Kapur
Writer: Jemima Khan
Starring: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Sajal Aly, Oliver Chris, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza, Alice Orr-Ewing, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
The latest film from director Shekhar Kapur is What’s Love Got to Do with It?, a rom-com about arranged/assisted marriages, culture clashes, and documentaries. It stars Lily James as Zoe, a documentary filmmaker who chronicles her childhood friend, Kaz (Shazad Latif) as he decides to ask his parents for an assisted marriage. Zoe is sceptical of the whole idea, and doesn’t think he should go through with it, but sees the potential in his story for a documentary.
Both Lily James and Shazad Latif are excellent. There’s a lot of chemistry between them and work really well together in every scene they share. Both Zoe and Kaz are instantly likable characters, and you get a real sense of the connection they’ve had since childhood from the start. All of the central characters are really well. The film is also really funny, with plenty of jokes all the way through. The story is split between scenes in London and Lahore, and the beauty of both cities absolutely shine on screen. There are so many gorgeous shots of the Thames with London’s landmarks in the background. Equally Lahore is given a lot of time on screen to captivate you.
The different cultures are presented really well throughout the story. Kaz and Zoe lived next door to each other growing up, but their views on the world and family are completely different. Kaz feels it’s his responsibility to get married to make his parents proud and to live a life they would approve of, which contrasts with Zoe’s belief that marriage should be for love. As Zoe documents what’s happening and interviews various people who had arranged marriage, and the different experiences that people have had, she learns about the differences between the two families. It also really presents that there are different ways to find happy ever after, even though there’s a lot of the rom com tropes on display.
One of the more emotional parts of the film is the sub-plot about Kaz’s sister, who had been banished from the family for not marrying a Muslim. Her entire family has turned their back on her for not sticking to tradition, and there’s a lot of raw emotions on display. Her name or what happened is barely mentioned. It would have been interesting to see this explored further, but it still hits home.
What’s Love Got to Do with It is funny, sweet, and has plenty of realistic characters that you genuinely care about as the story unfolds. It feels a lot more inspired than a lot of other recent rom-coms, and while it’s not reinventing the genre it’s still really good.
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