WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? A recipe for a successful romantic comedy
The main character, Zoe (Lily James), is a thirtysomething single and award-winning documentary filmmaker. When she learns that her childhood friend and neighbor, a British man of Pakistani origin, Kazim (Shazad Latif) has decided to enter into an arranged marriage, she decides that it is great material for her next project. With the consent of the man, he films the entire process, from the selection of the right candidate, through the matchmaker, to the journey to Pakistan to the bride’s house. Working on the film will make Zoe realize a few things.
Are you a fan of the romantic comedies of Richard Curtis, the creator of i.e. About Time, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary? What’s Love Got to Do with It? is a picture in a very similar style, a bittersweet moral mix whose creators can entertain as well as move. It’s a UK-produced film and very British in spirit, but Pakistani themes play a big part in it. The director of the film is Pakistani-born Shekhar Kapur, the creator of New York, I Love You, but also Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth II. The screenplay was also written by Pakistani Jemima Khan. Thanks to this, Pakistani culture is an important element of the film, and it is shown without prejudice.
About love in different cultures and religions
In fact, it is a story about the clash of two views on love – the modern one, represented by the English, and the traditional one, represented by Kazim’s Pakistani family. The creators do not criticize, but neither do they praise any of them. They show their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe the right path runs somewhere in the middle? As I wrote above, Pakistani culture is portrayed with respect, but the problematic aspects of the conservative lifestyle, subordinated to religious beliefs and traditions, are not omitted – there is, for example, the story of Kazim’s sister, who turned her back on the whole family for breaking the rules.
An important factor in the success of the whole is also a great cast. Lily James is an actress I love in almost every role. Likeable, slightly scatterbrained, full of unforced charm and sensitive – she easily makes us root for her heroine and care about her dilemmas. The funniest character in the film is the film’s mother Lily James, played by Emma Thompson herself. Shazad Latif as the childhood friend of the main character is very good. The role of his mother will be played by the star of Indian cinema, one of the leading actresses of the local new wave – Shabana Azmi. What a magnetizing woman she is – even now at seventy-two, she gets all the screen attention for herself whenever she appears in the frame.
I also really like the realistic approach to relationships presented by the creators of What’s Love Got to Do with It?. The two main characters – Zoe and Kazim – have been written very well. These are not flat figures feeding only on love. They have their interests, family problems, friends, social relationships, past, work life and career. Thanks to this, their story is multidimensional and convincing. Instead of glorifying unhealthy relationship relationships in the fashion of another Gray saga, the creators rather talk about how Zoe learns the right role models and overcomes her destructive love tendencies.
It’s not just a love story, it’s also a story about cultural differences and growing up to understand some universal truths. The film is neither a masterpiece nor even a revolution in the romantic comedy genre – but in the deluge of toxic movie such a good, warm, comforting and not stupid story about the love of today’s thirty-year-olds becomes a commodity worth a lot.