Shazad Latif and Lily James in a scene from “What’s Love got to do with it?” StudiocanalUK

I wonder if there is a writer’s room discussion about the title? And who decided that this was the winner?

It’s very important for you to know that “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” opening May 5 at Waterville’s Maine Film Center, is not the biographical film based on the sad life of Tina Turner played by Angela Bassett and abusive hubby played by Laurence Fishburne. Got that?

What you’re about to see is a sweet, happy and lovable love story starring Lily James, who charmed us all in “Downton Abbey” and soared up as Winston Churchill’s life saving secretary in the “Darkest Hour,” and got nominated for “Pam & Tommy.” Are we on the same page? Good.

Here is director Shekhar Kapur’s (“Elizabeth” 1998) “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” written by Jemima Khan, and staged and photographed in big valentine colors by cinematographer Remi Adefarasin.

Kapur gives us Lily who gives us Zoe, a 30-something, London-award winning documentary filmmaker, who lives on a cute houseboat and spends too much time with her bubbly mother (Emma Thomson, who needs no introduction) and is now trying to pitch her next project to two producers who aren’t buying it, leaving her searching for a new winning project.

Then the God of movies throws her part of a rainbow to put together.


Pakistani-British Kazim (Shazad Latif “The Commuter” 2018), who Zoe grew up in with in an MGM movie sort of way up in a backyard treehouse, has grown up to be a successful and handsome London doctor. He has come home to give his Pakistani parents some happy news.

Stay with this. You’re here because you’ve never been a Marvel movie fan, and Lily James has old MGM eyes.

The two stars, who apparently have spent their mid years building careers, “re-meet cute” in a “boy next door” moment, as they bump into each other on their respective front porches.

OK. We know where this is going, maybe, but maybe not. Kapur employs a teaser that gives us romantics a fright.

So the good and bad news. Kazim, unable to find “The One” has decided to allow his parents (Jeff Mirza, Shabana Azmi) to arrange his marriage to a complete stranger, Maymouna, (Sajal Ali) who has her own love picked out. What?

Zoe teases him with “Oh, I get it, Love Contractually?”


Kapur cleverly avoids a three-hour Netflix documentary on Pakistani arranged marriages by getting right to the wedding, with a spectacular Bollywood-esque Pakistan wedding music number featuring Thompson getting in with the dancers.

Yes, there is a wedding, and you’re not going to like it, until you read the fine print. That’s all I’m gonna say.

“What’s Love got to do with it?” opens Friday at Waterville’s Maine Film Center.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.