What's Love Got to Do with It (1993)

Taking its title from Tina Turner’s biggest hit, What's Love Got to Do with It chronicles the singer’s life up to the dawn of her comeback. Apart from passing commentary on the story, the title also serves as a harbinger of this biopic’s brilliant use of music to augment the drama unfolding on the screen.

 

It begins with a young Tina enthusiastically singing “This Little Light of Mine” in a church choir, ignoring the conductor‘s effort to prevent her to 'let it shine'. After Tina and Ike meet for the first time while preforming “You Know I Love You”, Ike begins moulding Tina into a star as she sings “Tina’s Wish”, imploring him to ‘make me over, I wanna be made over’. The first glimpses of Ike’s dark side precedes “A Fool in Love”, in which the backup singers advise Tina 'You know you love him, you can't understand, Why he treats you like he do when he's such a good man'. Even the obligatory montage to depict the passing years is set to “Proud Mary”, as Tina’s growing confidence and stage presence usurp Ike’s control while he lurks menacingly in the background.

Enhancing this marriage of music and drama are the Oscar-nominated performances of Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. Bassett’s career-making portrayal of Turner resonates with pain and strength on and off the stage, always wary of the threat posed by her husband. In this role, Fishburne conveys a danger that perpetually threatens to bubble to the surface, even when paying his wife a compliment.

It is there from the very start, as Ike surveys his adoring fans for another conquest. Though Tina is warned about his reputation, she dismisses it based on the way he looks. Unfortunately for her, “What You Get Is What You See” doesn’t always apply.

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Ike did not break Tina out of hospital shortly after giving birth so they could rush off to Mexico to get married. Tina checked herself out while Ike was in a different state attending court. The pair actually got married two years after the birth of their son.

Biopic depicts Tina's suicide attempt as taking place in 1974 when it actually occurred in 1968.

The final confrontation between Tina and Ike did not take place.

The friend who introduces Tina to Buddhism is a fictional character.

Biopic does not cover Tina Turner’s performance as The Acid Queen in Tommy and concludes before her roles in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Last Action Hero.

Clip courtesy of Dimitri Bitu

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