May 4, 2023 -The romantic comedy may be on the endangered genres list in Hollywood, but thankfully our friends in England have continued to concoct and export enjoyable confections at a steady clip. Earlier this year, we were treated to the delightful “Rye Lane,” a vibrant and fresh take on the meet cute that’s currently streaming on Hulu. And now we have “ What’s Love Got to Do With It? ” starring Lily James as a documentary filmmaker, Zoe, who turns her lens to the arranged marriage of her childhood friend, Kaz (Shazad Latif).
Within a conventional rom-com package, the ending of which isn’t the slightest of mysteries, tropes are subverted, big questions are asked about marriage and love, and a warm spotlight is shined on Pakistani culture. Also Emma Thompson gets to drink and dance and say mildly offensive things to her daughter (James’ Zoe) and her best friends next door.
The film, directed by Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth”), was written by Jemima Khan, a noted documentarian and an editor at publications like The New Statesman and Vanity Fair. She is also a generally glamorous woman about town who counted Princess Diana among her friends and had a high-profile marriage to Pakistani politician Imran Khan, with whom she shares two children. If not ripped from her own experiences, the film is a thoughtful distillation of her observations about arranged marriages and the common misconception that they are akin to “a medieval chattel swap” or a forced marriage, as Zoe pitches to some bro-executives in an attempt to get the greenlight for her next project.