Written by Jemima Khan
Starring Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, and Emma Thompson
Distributed by StudioCanal

Would you let your parents choose a spouse for you? For many Westerners, the answer is a clear “No!” But the answer is not always so clear-cut for people from other cultures, as the new film, What’s Love Got to Do with It?, illustrates. When Kaz (Shazad Latif), a British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent, decides he wants his family to arrange a marriage for him, his lifelong best friend, Zoe (Lily James), is astonished. Zoe, a documentary filmmaker, is planning a film about Islamic honor killings, but shortly after Kaz tells her his intentions, she pitches her production company an alternative: a documentary about Kaz’s arranged marriage.

What’s Love Got to Do With It? uses this setup—especially the culture clash between Islamic and modern Western values—to explore the meaning of romantic love, the role of family in one’s life, and the requirements of a happy relationship.

Kaz’s backstory is a familiar one for many young people born into immigrant families in Western countries. Although his family members consider themselves modern (they are depicted as moderate Muslims who, for instance, don’t wear headscarves), they also are traditionalists in many ways. For example, they already have broken off contact with Kaz’s sister for marrying a non-Muslim. Kaz loves his family and shares many of their Islamic views, but he also embraces a modern Western lifestyle. His grandmother tells him not to “break all our hearts” by marrying a non-Muslim, and he remarks that he wants to find a partner who’s “British enough for me and Pakistani enough for my parents.” He struggles to pursue his own happiness while also fulfilling a supposed “duty” to conform to his family’s religious and cultural expectations. . . .

What’s Love Got to Do With It? is a well-written and refreshingly thoughtful film which shows the crucial importance of honesty and independent thinking in achieving happiness.
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