What’s Love Got to Do with It? is one half My Big Fat Greek Wedding and one half…any other romantic comedy you can think of. This tame rom-com is as conventional as they come, which can sometimes be forgiven if the formula is executed with wit. Unfortunately, not only is the filmmaking watered-down but it smothers its own potential.
Chronicling the search for affection within the bounds of a controlled romance, the story’s framework follows an assisted marriage for bachelor Kazim (Shazad Latif). Although, he’s mostly going with the flow while his persistent family sets everything up for him. Meanwhile, Kazim’s filmmaking friend Zoe (Yesterday’s Lily James) documents his journey to marriage with her camera. She also records interviews with other couples to add additional perspectives to her project, while also reflecting on the shortcomings in her own love life.
There’s an interesting story underneath the movie’s schmaltz about arranged marriage procedures and how it affects those involved, but screenwriter Jemima Khan and director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) too often want to fall back on its “cute” content; such as scenes that include Zoe’s cornball mother Cath (Emma Thompson), Cath’s cuddly dog, the When Harry Met Sally-esque interviews, or Zoe’s imagination as she exaggerates past dates. In fact, the Zoe character feels like an ejection rip cord that will guarantee the movie an easy way to snap back into “crowd-pleasing” rom-com tropes. Additionally, if the film is given a choice to delve deeper into Pakistani heritage or feature Kazim’s family being awkward or clumsy about his matchmaking, you better believe this tame film will always choose the latter.
Danyal Somani recently reviewed What’s Love Got to Do with It? for Wylie Writes, and complimented the film on its South Asian representation. I, too, also appreciate the film’s diversity, but I wish the narrative wasn’t so Westernized.
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