Starring: Lily James, Emma Thompson, Shabana Azmi, Shazad Latif, Asim Chaudhry, Sajal Ali, Shaheen Khan, Jeff Mirza
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Are arranged, or so-called assisted marriages, fixed up by older members of the family who should know you best the answer to wedded bliss? But then, what about love? That is the question that this new romantic comedy scripted by writer Jemima Khan and out in this week sets out to answer.
Zoe (James) is a successful filmmaker on the lookout for the next meaty subject matter to zoom her camera in on. While her over exuberant mum (Thompson) is not entirely happy with this workaholic spirit and keeps trying to set her up on dates, Zoe finds her camera much more in her control than her chaotic love life.
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During a long overdue catch up with her next-door neighbour and doctor friend Kaz (Latif) in their childhood treehouse hangout, Zoe hits upon just the ticket for her next project – “love contractually”.
She decides to turn Kaz’s wedding invitation to his arranged in Lahore, Pakistan, to Maymouna (Ali), whom he has only met a few times virtually, into her quest to document the elusive concept called love. Will Kaz really find his happily-ever-after by “walking”, rather than “falling”, into it? Or will this mission end in disaster, as Zoe seems almost certainly convinced? And, will the outcome of this particular “assisted marriage” force her to face up to her own commitment phobia?
The film is an easy-breezy watch, with moments of laughter and even some teary ones packed in – safe in the deft hands of award-winning director . Stalwarts like Emma Thompson and Shabana Azmi, as two polar opposite mums, add some real gravitas to this mostly fun-packed ride.
It is palpable all the way through that the script is nourished by Jemima Khan’s very personal encounters with arranged marriage while married to former Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. She brings an insider’s perspective to the concept which is much misunderstood in the West and often conflated with forced marriage.
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As a result, the film, packed with British, Indian and Pakistani artists and shot in , offers up a refreshing take on the modern dating scene. As far as go, this one is a quite the crowd pleaser. But even for those less inclined towards the genre, there is a lot going for it as a light entertainer.
And, ‘What’s Love Got to Do with it?’ – well, most definitely everything.