Having absolutely nothing to do with the Tina Turner biopic of the same name (minus the question mark), What’s love got to do with it? serves as a masterclass in how to faithfully adhere to the classic rom-com template while emerging with something that deliciously delivers on both sides of the hyphen.
Serving as the first foray into the romantic comedy arena for filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, from Elizabeth and bandit queen fame, the effervescent cross-cultural confection may not be the first to examine the practice of arranged marriage in the age of Tinder, but Kapur’s stirring touch, working from a script by Jemima Khan, hits every mark. desired targets.
What’s love got to do with it?
Give both heart and fun bone the attention they deserve.
Top it all off with a fine lead performance from Lily James and a funny bite from Emma Thompson, and you’ve got the type of world-first TIFF entry that tends to do well when the annual People’s Choice votes are counted. It’s no surprise that the name Working Title Films appears in the credits, given how well the production fits into the Love, in fact / Four weddings and a funeral mold.
Struggling to figure out what to do for an encore, award-winning British documentary filmmaker Zoe (James) ends up training her camera on something decidedly close to home – namely her lifelong friend and neighbor Kaz (Shazad Latif), who has informed her of his intentions to honor the wishes of his Pakistani-born parents by agreeing to an arranged marriage.
While the news comes as a bit of a shock to Zoe, who clearly shares easy chemistry with Kaz, the concept isn’t completely distasteful to her, or her exuberant divorced mother Cath (Thompson), for that matter, who is trying to fix it. -her with her dog’s kind vet (Oliver Chris). After going through a series of single-date disasters, Zoe does indeed begin to wonder if Kaz’s mother might be wrong when she offers the family wisdom that it’s better to fall for it. love and walking in love – especially when it is pointed out that the UK divorce rate for arranged unions is around one-tenth that of conventional unions.
Yet she is admittedly taken aback when he informs her that he is engaged to the seemingly introverted young woman (Sajal Aly) to whom he was introduced a week earlier via Skype. With her camera and mother in tow, Zoe travels to Lahore for the wedding festivities, uncovering some eye-opening truths in the process.
While there have been rom-coms built around family-driven “assisted” marriages versus the power of attraction, few have managed to balance laugh-out-loud laughter with romantic longing and the power of attraction so well. sense of place so effectively captured in Kapur. sensitive staging and screenplay by Khan.
But just because love can be blind doesn’t mean cultural and ethnic differences go unnoticed in contemporary society. It’s an observation Khan’s script doesn’t shy away from repeatedly making, including Kaz mentioning that he wants to get to the airport early “so I can be randomly selected.”
As Zoe, meanwhile, the formidable James, whose versatile work spanned the gamut of Cinderella at Pam and Tommyconveys a painful vulnerability as a young woman using her camera as a buffer between her subjects and her own personal fears and insecurities.
Vibrantly filmed by Remi Adefarasin (Oscar nominee for Elizabeth), which bathes the production in rich, warm hues, with an equally warm production design by Simon Elliott, What’s love got to do with it? gratifyingly succeeds in answering his own rhetorical question.
Venue: Toronto International Film Festival (gala presentations)
Starring: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson, Sajal Aly, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza
Production companies: STUDIOCANAL, Working Title Films, Instinct Productions
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Screenwriter: Jemima Khan
Producers: Nicky Kentish Barnes, Jemima Khan, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Executive producers: Ron Halpern, Anna Marsh, Joe Naftalin, Sarmad Masud, Sarah Harvey, Lucas Webb, Katherine Pomfret
Director of photography: Remi Adefarasin
Production designer: Simon Elliott
Editors: Guy Bensley, Nick Moore
Music: Nitin Sawney
1 hour 48 minutes