At its core, What’s Love Got To Do With It? is a somewhat standard romantic comedy, that is relatively formulaic and predictable. Yet, while it definitely brings a hefty serving of standard romcom tropes, it doesn’t necessarily fall victim to it.
*This review contains spoilers!*
What’s Love Got To Do With It? tells the story of Zoe (Lily James), a young documentary filmmaker, who finds her love life as equally frustrating as her plight in finding a subject for her next documentary. When her childhood friend, Kazim (Shazad Latif), announces he is pursuing an arranged marriage, Zoe asks if he can be her new subject. Throughout the journey of creating the documentary, the pair of friends are faced with coming to terms about their views on love, family, and relationships.
While the film itself is relatively simple, sticking to a bit of a formulaic mold that can be expected out of a rom com, it also touts its fair share of charm. Lily James brings her signature magnetic aura onscreen, which carries the film. Zoe is an archetype of a romantic comedy lead in many ways. She is unlucky in love, finding herself on a string of casual hookups, finding frustration in her career. But at the end of the day, she just yearns to find someone to finish a TV show with. While one can guess that she and Kazim will end up together within the first ten minutes of the film, the added aspect of the cultural expectations Kazim pursuing an arranged marriage to please his family keeps the story interesting.
On that front, Zoe and Kazim’s stories mirror each other well. Zoe has given up on her expectations for love, and in a way, so has Kazim, opting to just go for an arranged marriage. Both of them struggle with their dynamics with their families. As Zoe joins Kazim on a trip to Pakistan for the wedding, the more complicated facets of Kazim’s family history are revealed, which coincides perfectly with the eventual clashing between Zoe and her mother soon follows, as Zoe reaches a tipping point in her mother’s outlandish and sometimes offensive personality. Through these conflicts, Kazim and Zoe are able to come to the realization that they actually have feelings for each other, which is a nice contrast to the more common “enemies to lovers” or “one character tries to fix the other” tropes seen in romantic comedies.
The film is also incredibly well casted, with Shazad Latif serving as a great counterpart to James. Latif brings a layer of vulnerability as Kazim’s arch explores the pressures of familial expectations. He and James play off each other well, and their chemistry is palpable enough to make one want to root for them to end up together. Emma Thompson also continues to prove that there is no scene she will not steal through her performance as Zoe’s mother, Cath. A scene shared between her and James, wherein Zoe has a moment of emotional epiphany is a standout in the film.
At its core, What’s Love Got To Do With It? is a relatively standard romantic comedy, that is relatively formulaic and predictable. Yet, while it definitely brings a hefty serving of standard romcom tropes, it doesn’t necessarily fall victim to it. Adding the layer of conversations around family dynamics and cultural expectations makes for an interesting watch.
Should be Considered: None
Release Date: May 5, 2023
Where to Watch: In Select Theaters
Lives in NC, where she is on a first name basis with the owners of her favorite pho spot.
Favorite Actress: Angela Bassett
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