Arranged marriages, tradition, western values and that age old thing we call love.
A romantic film can sink or swim on the personability and charisma of its lead protagonists so director Shekhar Kapur (Bandit Queen, Elizabeth) is blessed to have an ease of chemistry with Shazad Latif and Lily James who work well together in this com of rom.
When Kaz (Latif) tells his old friend and neighbour, documentary film maker, Zoe (James) that he is getting an arranged marriage she asks to document it for her latest project.
Shazad Latif and Lily James
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d like this. I’m not a fan of rom coms at the best of times and as I sat in the cinema before the film began I wondered if it would be able to charm me. I knew it wouldn’t happen straight away and I was right. As we know (but could do with being reminded) all art is subjective and the internets is full of personal taste criticism and everyone wants to be heard and be right. There is a LOT of shouting and complaining and it is boring. Over the years writing these reviews I have moved towards not disparaging films as it takes an army to make them and a lot of people put in a lot of work to get them made. They don’t always work but most of the time it is not for lack of caring, there are SO many variables in the journey to making a film from the green light to pre-production to filming to editing and post-production there are many reasons why a film does or doesn’t work.
What works for one may not work for another. So anytime I write about a film I am determined to find the positive in it because otherwise I become a moaner like the rest of them and I’m not doing that.
Meet the family
This film managed to hook me about half way through when the ‘not a couple’ Kaz and Zoe were in Pakistan for Kaz’s wedding to Maymouna (Sajal Ali) and they come across the actual musician Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, nephew of the famous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, singing a Sufi song about forbidden love. It is a transcendent moment that lifts the film from the traditional fare to something otherwise. That was the moment that I was charmed and I was in.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
This is a film that hits the right emotional notes for its chosen audience.
Latif and James are great as is the incomparable Emma Thomson who plays James’ mother. There is a lovely scene near the end when Zoe challenges her mother who thinks that Zoe is not complete without a boyfriend. It’s a touching scene with some honest observations.
A sweet, feel good film with some gentle commentary about the perils and pitfalls of love within and without tradition.