This review has mild spoilers.
From Shekhar Kapur comes What’s Love Got to Do with It?. A romantic-comedy that focuses on a documentary maker called Zoe (Lily James) who decides to make a film following her friend Kaz (Shazad Latif) who is getting an arranged marriage. Whilst making the film she is forced to question her own decisions and outlooks as she is exposed to an entirely new approach towards love and dating.
I’m not particuarly a rom-com guy, it’s probably my least favourite genre of film so I didn’t really go in to this with any expectations. They’re all pretty formulaic and you know exactly what’s going to happen by the end, so it’s important that the journey is entertaining and that the leads have good chemistry. This film doesn’t really try to do anything new or exciting with the formula so don’t expect any subverting conventions, but what you do get which is something I haven’t really seen before, is an interesting examination on the pros and cons of arranged marriages. It makes a conscious effort to ensure that they are displayed as neither wholly good or wholly bad, which I must admit I was worried about at first as the film almost seemed to be promoting them as the way forward for dating. Luckily, my fears were soon quashed and the script does deliver a balanced argument for both sides.
Unfortunately, the film fell flat for me when it came down to the chemistry between the characters of Zoe and Kaz, as I didn’t really feel at any point that there was any. This means as the film progresses and they draw closer together, it felt rather forced as opposed to natural, which is a big red flag for a romantic comedy. Don’t get me wrong, neither of them are putting in bad performances, they just didn’t really click for me and I believe that is the due to some lazy writing that failed to flesh out their relationship and give any tangible reason as to why these two are a good match together. It actually ended up making the character of Zoe come across quite entitled and nasty, her treatment of other characters never really felt justified and made her unlikeable at times.
But where those characters failed for me, Emma Thompson absolutely shines as Zoe’s bumbling mother Cath, who can’t help but end up being offensive and mildly racist despite her good intentions when trying to embrace a different culture. She’s that embarrassing parent that we’ve all either had or witnessed before and Thompson nails it, she’s the primary source of comedy in this film and never really misses a beat. It looks like she’s having a lot of fun in this film and the audience are well rewarded as a result, she was undoubtedly the highlight for me!
Overall, I found this film to be a bit of a mixed bag, it’s not a bad film by any stretch and is actually quite entertaining and moving in places, there are laughs to be had and I have no doubt audiences will enjoy it. However, for me it fumbled in the area that I feel is absolutely vital to have a successful romantic comedy so it’s hard to give it a high score. That being said, this isn’t really my kind of thing so don’t feel dissuaded, if you’re in to your romantic comedies I’ve got no doubt you’ll have a good time!
I give What’s Love Got to Do with It? a 5.5/10.