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What's Love Got to Do With It?


Stars: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson, Shabana Azmi, Oliver Chris, Nosheen Phoenix, Sajal Ali, Ben Ashenden, Alice Orr-Ewing

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Not a reissue of the old Tina Turner biopic, but an Anglo-Pakistani romcom that starts brightly, but gradually outstays its welcome.

Zoe (James) and her slightly eccentric mum (Thompson) live next door to a middle-ged Pakistani couple, whose grown-up children seem to be semi-permanent residents. Still living there is youngest son Kaz (Latif), now a doctor.

He and Zoe, who has become a photo-journalist and filmmaker, have grown up together and of course they love each other (without really knowing it), although he is preparing for an arranged marriage, while Zoe embarks on a disastrous series of dates and one-night stands.

She attracts a sort of boyfriend in a local vet (Chris), who is obviously destined for the Bill Pullman/Ralph Bellamy discard file; soon, though, Zoe & Co are off to Lahore for Kaz's wedding.

Naturally we can all guess the ending of this one, but it does take an unconscionable time to get there. Co-producer Jemima Khan's largely intelligent screenplay has flashes of wit, but they tend to fade away under Kapur's unambitious direction, as the long drawn-out plot - amid much local colour of Pakistan - plods to its foregone conclusion.

James is appealing as always, though she should watch overdoing her repertoire of 'adorable' mannerisms. But Latif is a dull leading man, Thompson is for once below par, and the great Indian actress Azmi is under-used as Zak's mother.

David Quinlan

UK 2022. UK Distributor: Studio Canal (Working Title). Colour by Panalux.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 19 Feb 2023