The Right Choice

What’s Love Got to Do with it?

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Cast: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson, Oliver Chris, Sajal Ali, Alice Orr-Ewing

Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes

Film Rating: 6 out of 10

Pakistani director Shekhar Kapur made some commercially successful films with the impressive Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) both starring Cate Blanchett, but his latest film with a title which is both unoriginal and boring, What’s Love Got to do with it? is a cross cultural romantic comedy fortunately saved by the performance of the two main leads Lily James (Yesterday, Baby Driver, Darkest Hour) as documentary film maker Zoe and Shazad Latif (The Man who Knew Infinity, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as Kazim, a doctor in contemporary London.

Audiences should not get this film mixed up with the 1993 film of the same name starring an Oscar nominated Angela Bassett as Tina Turner opposite Laurence Fishburne.

The second title reincarnation of this film is a cross cultural love story which is both contrived and poorly written by screenwriter Jemima Khan. What’s Love Got to do with it? is billed as a romantic comedy although there is not much comedy in it besides a couple of goofy scenes by Zoe’s mother Cath awfully played by Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Howard’s End, Sense and Sensibility), who apart from Cruella has recently chosen some really dubious film roles. In actual fact, this was the worst I have seen Emma Thompson act in a film.

Fortunately Lily James is amazing as Zoe, a single documentary film maker who decides to take Kazim’s decision to embark on an arranged marriage with an unknown bride in Lahore, Pakistan as a fascinating subject matter for a documentary film. Except that this premise does fall flat as any documentary film maker should never fall in love with their subject matter?

The authenticity of Zoe as the film maker taking a peek into an essentially non-Western custom is questioned in terms of ethnographic film making. As Kazim says to Zoe in one of the better scenes of the film, that even though we are neighbours we are continents apart referring to the vast cultural differences between the British and the Pakistani’s.

Shazad Latif is easy on the eye and is dependable as the handsome male lead, completely dominated by his family.

As the action of the film moves from grey and dull London to bright and exotic Lahore in Pakistan, director Shekar Kapur’s handling of the issue of cross cultural relationships is muted without making a strong point except for a fabulous wedding scene, the rest of this near two hour film is not thrilling, but long winded and arduous.

By the time the two main romantic leads get together it is the end of the film. That being said, the onscreen chemistry between the gorgeous Lily James and the extremely handsome Shazad Latif holds this film together even when the supporting cast do not.

What’s Love Got to do with it? could have been so much better, a tale filled with wit and good humour but instead comes across rather surprisingly as a boring cross cultural love story which has been rehashed a thousand times since the Oscar winning Guess Who is Coming to Dinner (1967). Besides Emma Thompson should choose better film roles in the future.

What’s Love Got to do with it? gets a film rating of 6 out of 10, unoriginal and slow in parts but this romantic comedy will find a niche audience. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy an extremely lightweight and slightly exotic British romantic comedy set in London and Lahore.

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