At the identical pageant the place Billy Eichner simply tried to revive the once-lucrative Apatow method of candy and salty together with his queer comedy Bros, Shekhar Kapur, director of Elizabeth and Bandit Queen, is returning after an prolonged absence to attempt to resurrect the equally well-liked and equally dormant Working Title romcom with What’s Love Bought to Do with It?, a enjoyable, frothy and forgettable itch-scratcher. Each stick with a well-recognized playbook for subgenres that primarily include a strict fashion information hooked up however each additionally attempt to discover a various retelling of tales which were historically advised with white, straight individuals on the centre.
Kapur’s isn’t fairly as profitable or particular as Eichner’s nevertheless it’s a slick reminder of the calming consolation that comes from the Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner blueprint – all good-looking London places and massive, unfettered feelings – and it’s clean and likable sufficient to encourage extra of the identical (rumours of a fourth Bridget Jones film more likely to be confirmed inside weeks). Kapur may not have any expertise inside the comedy style however his lavish, action-heavy interval dramas have allowed him to grasp epic canvas storytelling and it lends the movie a shiny grandness that’s been lacking from the romcom ever since Netflix helped usher it again and flatten it down. It appears and feels huge, gliding between continents and cultures, location upon location upon location. It’d by no means attain feelings of the identical measurement however its ease is tough to withstand.
He’s working with a script from Jemima Khan, pulling parts from her personal expertise of marrying a a Muslim man and dwelling in Pakistan, specializing in childhood buddies dwelling on the identical avenue however coming from totally different backgrounds. Zoe (Lily James) has discovered a profitable profession as a documentary film-maker however the heaviness of her matters has made it onerous to search out funding. When her longtime good friend Kaz (Shazad Latif) broadcasts that he’s beginning the organized marriage course of, propelled by his personal need to do it moderately than parental coercion, she sees his journey as inspiration for a brand new movie, following him all the way in which down the aisle together with her digital camera.
The method of manufacturing includes the pair debating romance and love and what all of it means, sub-When Harry Met Sally back-and-forths that keep largely surface-level, pleasing sufficient to look at however not often insightful. Khan’s script is one among competency moderately than creativity: a sound construction, a propulsive tempo and a discovered consciousness of style conventions however dialogue that always feels a bit of first draft, a bit of placeholder-heavy, zingers probably not zinging fairly as they need to. A operating theme that sees Zoe bringing harsh actuality to fairy tales doesn’t work in the way in which the movie appears to suppose, though it’s refreshing to see James allowed to play one thing with barely extra depth than she typically will get afforded. Too ceaselessly, she will get caught taking part in characters who make extra sense as male fantasy than feminine actuality (she, and we, deserved extra from Cinderella, Child Driver and Yesterday) however Zoe has extra of an edge, wavering over the idea of marriage and utilizing drunken intercourse as a pick-me-up, not conforming to loads of the romcom tropes the Working Title secure helped to cement. At instances, I want the script had gone a bit additional, particularly together with her perspective in direction of the idea of motherhood, however James is sweet on the spikier stuff, as she not too long ago confirmed within the in any other case underwhelming Pam & Tommy. She has a simple, if by no means precisely electrical, chemistry with a captivating Latif.
The longtime Richard Curtis collaborator Emma Thompson additionally crops up as Zoe’s mom, contemporary off arguably her best work to this point in Good Luck to You Leo Grande (deserving each ounce of her Oscar buzz), however her presence is moderately tiresome, over-egging comedy help in a method that feels outsized and uncomfortable, sinking moderately than stealing scenes. It’s much more rewarding to look at Indian star Shabana Azmi as the opposite extra layered matriarch, an astute actor avoiding cliche as a lady embracing each custom and modernity and he or she sells us on the problem of that wrestle. The movie doesn’t actually have any profound statements to make on organized marriages or marriage on the whole nevertheless it additionally avoids leaning into simplistic western judgment, the general conclusion being that love can occur to anybody anyplace, no proper or flawed route.
What’s love received to do with What’s Love Bought to Do with It? For us, by the top, little or no. However there’s loads of like right here as a substitute.