Music Movie Review: What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993)

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The explosive and abusive relationship between Ike and Tina Turner has been well documented but was brought to the forefront with What’s Love Got To Do With It? Based off Tina’s autobiography, I, Tina, the film follows the diva from her early church beginnings to her successful solo career she fought for. Starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, it’s still one of the best biopics out there. It’s a compelling look at Tina’s career and her violent relationship with Ike Turner.

Oddly enough, I first saw this movie when I was young. I’m not sure why, but I remember really liking it. Years later, I still think it’s a fantastic film. Bassett does an amazing job portraying the diva. She got everything from her facial expressions to her movements and gestures down perfectly. You can tell she studied and researched Tina to accurately portray her. Fishburne did an equally good job of playing Ike, even proving to be terrifying at times. Though Tina’s story is interesting, it’s the cast’s performances that helps make the movie stand out from the other music biopics.

Of course, like with other movies based on true stories, there are a number of inaccuracies. Some instances include the character Jackie, who was invented solely for the film, Tina’s son Craig, who is the son of Raymond Hill, not Ike, and Ike Turner being the frontman for his band. There are also some errors regarding the year certain performances occurred and the number of hit songs the duo made. Later on, Ike Turner denied the scenes where he pulled a gun on Tina. He also said the infamous studio abuse scene did not occur.

Though a number of things were changed, I still think it’s a great movie. I’ll admit I was disappointed that the movie took so many liberties, but it’s standard with most biopics. Something is always going to be changed, condensed, or played up for entertainment purposes. And there’s always two sides of a story, so it makes sense that Ike and Tina don’t agree on certain events. At least the movie manages to get the basics about Turner’s career right. It also helps that Ike and Tina were both involved giving it more weight and credibility.

Despite its inaccuracies, the film is a fascinating look at the rise of Tina Turner, her marriage, why she stayed as long as she did, and how she finally got out. It also makes audiences privy to just how horrible it was. Some of those scenes are downright appalling. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open during most of them. By the end of the film, you’re cheering Tina on, even though you’re aware of the long, successful solo career she maintained for years. It’s a classic biopic and one that still holds up today.

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