‘WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?’ ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

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A comedy flick I read about way back when, and even wrote a culture discussion about after reading an interview, What’s Love Got to Do with It? is surprising.

What’s Love Got to Do with It? (2023) Film Review

When she’s not running late for a family event, work is pretty much all Zoe (Lily James) does. This is why she’s late for a wedding she’s been invited to through her childhood next door neighbors. Neighbors that were more like the best of friends and “tribe” for her mother (Emma Thompson). It’s this event that brings her back to her best friend, Kaz (Shazad Latif). Their busy lives, her as a documentary filmmaker and his as a doctor, doesn’t give them as much time to spend together, but they fall back into an easy rhythm of friendship. So much so that he tells Zoe he’s getting engaged… he just doesn’t know to whom yet.

Kaz’s family is tight-knit and close, and he’s decided, quite on his own, that he wants his parents to help arrange a good match for him. Though she finds it crazy and nonsensical, inspiration strikes Zoe when, while pressured to find her next doc project, she picks Kaz as her subject. Thus begins her journey into the world of modern arranged marriages, and all of the traditions that come with this.

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After reading about this during one of Emma Thompson’s press interviews, I was curious. But I rarely go see movies nowadays, so I waited it out… and waited, until finally it showed up on one of the streamers I pay for. While I thought the movie did sound fun, and I love Thompson talking about the right kind of rom-com is rare today, what I wasn’t prepared for, is how good this film is. Is it perfect? No. Does it wander into places I’d rather it didn’t? Sure. But on the whole, the film is good.

Perhaps what I like best about it is Kaz. He’s imperfect, but the writer doesn’t make him into some kind of lesser hero who needlessly apologizes. This is one of my biggest gripes in modern cinema. Writers weaken a relationship by having the guy always sincerely apologizing when both people in the relationship need to own their mistakes. In this, the fight is mutual and fair. Kaz doesn’t say anything that isn’t true, and while hurtful, it’s something his sparring partner needs to hear. Same is true for Zoe in that she reminds her sparring partner of things that matter and are important.

The first screenplay credit for Jemima Khan, the story is good. It asks some smart questions about love even though I think a couple things err a bit. It’s also (minorly so) a little too self pitying. Regardless, it’s memorable and has some genuinely sweet and touching moments, plus the fairy tales throughout is a unique element. The script doesn’t get too flowery with any rom-com element and mostly keeps its feet firmly planted. The ending likewise, isn’t any kind of cemented conclusion which, for this story, is wise. I also like that there’s nervousness, and awkwardness to the ending. It feels more authentic and real. If you enjoy the genre, or any of the actor’s work, you will likely find an entertaining and colorful story in this 2023 comedy.

You can, at publication, find What’s Love Got to Do with It? streaming on Hulu.

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💛🧡🩷‘WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?’ ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS 🩷🧡💛 Review of the 2023 comedy with Lily James. © Rissi JC

Content: the film is PG-13 for some sexual references. Conversation revolves around sex in marriage, and there’s another mention about the same sex lying together. There’s a mention of drugs (someone tries to entice others to use). We see a woman 2-3 times, entering apartments drunk, making out and start to remove clothing. We see someone lying naked (covered in sheets) on a bed, and another partially wrapped in a towel. There’s discussion about affairs. There’s some profanity including sh*t and a use of the f-word.

Photos: StudioCanal / Working Title Films

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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