23 Feb 23
Following the success of Ticket To Paradise, the big-screen rom-com revival continues apace with legendary Working Title producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (Four Weddings And A Funeral, Billy Elliot, Pride & Prejudice and much, much more) bringing us What's Love Got To Do With It? Directed by icon of Indian cinema, Shekhar Kapur, What's Love... is a cross-cultural, heart-warming, star-studded romp designed to delight, move and inform. It is a sensory feast reminiscent of Love Actually and Bridget Jones's Diary that also deconstructs cultural preconceptions, stigmas and biases around British-Pakistani culture.
Documentary writer and producer Jemima Khan's script follows childhood friends and neighbours Zoe (Lily James) and Kaz (Shazad Latif), and their very different approaches to finding love, namely her dating app disasters and his "assisted marriage" experience. Zoe, herself a documentary filmmaker, decides to film Kaz's journey "walking into love" rather than falling in love.
Cue unrealised emotions, meaning-of-life questions and Asim Chaudhry trying to explain dogging to sexagenarians. Director Kapur is an awards favourite but long-time big-screen absentee (this is his first feature film in 15 years), and here the Elizabeth director returns on top form, crafting not just a romance but an emotional story about the different types of familial love.
We see this in the close relationship between Zoe and her mum, and within the Khan family as well, with Kaz and his mum Aisha's relationship striking a particularly touching chord.
Bringing both the rom and the com is a formidable cast that reunites two underrated leads for the first time since the BBC's The Pursuit Of Love: the ever-charming Latif (who's proved his versatility in Toast Of London, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and more recently Star Trek: Discovery) and the marvellous James (Yesterday, Downton Abbey), who are backed by Bollywood legend Shabana Azmi, the aforementioned Chaudhry and the always engaging Emma Thompson.
Luscious cityscapes, extravagant set-pieces and glorious costumes – all underpinned by a touching portrait of a relatable family – What's Love... is all but guaranteed to cut through even the most cynical of viewers and put a much-needed smile on your face – and perhaps even teach us a thing or two about love along the way. Ally Wybrew
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