What’s Love Got To Do With It? Movie Review

What’s Love Got To Do With It? Movie Review: Zoe (Lily), an award-winning documentary filmmaker, decides to document her childhood friend Kazim aka Kaz’s (Shazad) wedding. Kaz is the third-generation heir of a Pakistani immigrant family. While writing his wedding, Zoe explores the concept of the institution of arranged marriage and what it means to those involved.

Star CastLily James, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Shazad Latif, Sajal Ali, and ensemble.
DirectorShekhar Kapur
LanguageEnglish (with subtitles)
AvailabilityIn Theatres Near You
Runtime108 Minutes

Shekhar Kapur’s contributions to Indian cinema are unparalleled, and his innovative cinematic tools have inspired filmmakers for generations. He revolutionized commercial and art house cinema with groundbreaking movies such as “Mr. India,” which featured a leading lady superstar dancing sensuously in a chiffon saree. He turned Gulzar Sahab’s words into visual poetry in “Masoom” and introduced the world to the violent heartland with “Bandit Queen.”

What’s Love Got To Do With It Movie Review
What’s Love Got To Do With It Movie Review

What’s Love Got To Do With It? Movie Review

After over a decade in obscurity, Kapur returns with “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” The rom-com reunites him with his leading lady from 40 years ago, Azmi, and tells a story that looks simple from the outside. However, the film’s source material comes from Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of ex-cricketer and Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan, making it more of her product than Kapur’s.

The story is simple and lacks complexities, but societal conditioning and patriarchy still play a significant role. While the film is a product of Jemima, Lily’s character, Zoe, is witnessing and documenting the events, making it an immediate personal diary of a woman. As a result, the film is more of Jemima’s than anyone else’s.

The film blends crucial debates with the British royals and presents how patriarchy and conditioning affect even them. The film’s protagonist sets out to find a bride for an arranged marriage where his parents decide the girl’s complexion, her country of origin, and whether she is allowed to have a pet. The conditioning remains the same even after years of living in London as immigrants.

Jemima’s experience as a journalist, an award-winning documentary producer, a social activist, and a philanthropist informs the film’s story. Having worked as a consultant on “The Crown,” she uses the patriarchal doom faced by Princess Diana to tell the story. Zoe is as firebrand as Diana, and Kazim’s mouth’s the lines of Prince Charles, ‘whatever love is.’

While the screenplay sometimes becomes too simplistic, the humor is always on point. Emma Thompson, who plays Caith, is the filmmaker’s voice and delivers the most controversial lines with so much grit that viewers cannot help but agree.

Lily James plays the film’s most profound role as the glue connecting all the storylines. She plays a fictional character loosely inspired by real people with confidence and sincerity.

Shazad Latif’s portrayal of Kazim is organic, relatable, and engaging. He is not a striking individual living the best London life, but a very tame man who respects his parents to the point where he doesn’t let them know he smokes.

Shabana Azmi’s character initially endorses societal conditioning, but as the film progresses, she offers some of the wisest words about living with it.

The film is a good, aware fairy tale but lacks Kapur’s signature touch. The film is well done, but for a filmmaker who has given us some of the most era-defining projects of his time, it’s missing his unique selling point.

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