“What’s Love Got to Do with It?” comes to the M.V. Film Center on Friday, June 16. Despite the title, this romantic comedy is not about Tina Turner and her famous song. The story is about Zoe, played by Lily James, a prizewinning film school graduate who decides to make a documentary about Pakistani arranged marriages. With her camera, she follows around her childhood friend Kazim, played by Shazad Latif for the story. Kaz (his nickname) has decided to let his parents pick out his wife in an arranged marriage. Zoe questions if this choice makes sense.
Mo is the professional matchmaker who will help the parents find a suitable bride. Sure enough, he comes up with the beautiful Maymouna (Sajal Ali). Maymouna doesn’t look very happy, but that’s a film twist that will figure in later.
Another kookie character is Zoe’s mother, Cath (Emma Thompson), who adds a bit of zest with her goofy clothes and silly blonde wig. Cath’s role is to pressure her daughter into finding a mate. Kaz’s parents, Aisha and Zahid, are eager to find an appropriate mate for Kaz. Zoe spends time with her friend Lily, a mom with two children whom Zoe tells fairy tales to at bedtime. This sets the tone for the film.
Once the arranged marriage is set, everyone flies off to Lahore, Pakistan, for the nuptials. The debate continues between Zoe and Kaz about whether arranged marriages, which don’t involve love, are a good idea. In the meantime, Lily finds out her husband is cheating on her, and this brings another issue to the table for Zoe and Kaz to argue about.
Pakistani culture plays a significant role in the film. Kaz’s father lists all the things Islam has introduced into the world. The issue of arranged marriages, Kaz’s prayers to Mecca, his apparent avoidance of alcohol and cigarettes, and the ban on marriage to non-Muslims all figure in as explanations of the difference between Pakistani and Western lifestyles. The modern blending of cultures is also illustrated in a soccer match, where Zoe learns that 22-year-old Maymouna plans to be a civil rights lawyer.
Once in Lahore, the three-day wedding celebration takes place. There is a dramatic and colorful scene with drum players marching, followed by the dancing of Maymouna’s friends and relatives, as well as extravagantly beautiful clothes on both Maymouna and, to a lesser degree, Kaz.
Whether it be “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Beauty and the Beast,” or “Snow White,” these fairy tales remind viewers to enjoy the romantic story in “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”
Information and tickets for “What’s Love got to Do with It?” are available at mvfilmsociety.com.