Blerd Film Club: What's Love Got To Do With It

Ike and Tina Turner, a love story that has been immortalized in the lyrics of everyone from Jay Z to Alicia Keys. While Jay may be shocked they broke up, and Alicia may be sad they didn't make more music, I'm glad they're split up. The reason being, nothing immortalized their infamous love more than the film What's Love Got To Do With It.

Our story begins in Nutbush, Tennessee where Anna Mae Bullock is abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandmother. After her grandmother dies she travels to St. Lois to reunite with the mother that left her. She falls in love with the leader of a band named Ike Turner. After winning a competition and earning a spot in the band the two fall madly in love. They even begin to have musical success as Ike and Tina Turner. If the story ended there, it would be wonderful.

The next few years are filled with beatings and rape as they attempt to create a family. Tina is powerless to defend herself and anyone who attempts to defend her is beat as well. We see men and women alike try to come to Tina's aide, but a drug addicted Ike was simply too much to overcome. At one point Tina attempts to commit suicide as a way out. Eventually, after a beating in a limousine Tina defends herself and wins a fight with Ike. When they arrive at the hotel, she leaves him and the rest is history.

Now, there are some inaccuracies withing the film. Both Tina and especially Ike have gone on the record about inaccuracies in the film. Ike claims he never raped Tina or beat her "that bad," nor did he father her first child. Tina has stated she wasn't the helpless damsel in distress and had to tussle with not just Ike but some of his mistresses over years. One was a prostitute performing alongside Ike while Tina recuperated after giving birth. There's a scene where the mother of Ike's first two children drops them off on Ike's request. In reality, Tina sent Ike to get the children because their mother had abandoned them and she didn't want them to grow up like she did. 

Tina has even stated some of the beatings in the film are wildly dramatized. For example the famous "Eat the cake Anna Mae," scene where Ike hits Tina's friend and jams a piece of cake in her face, didn't go down like that. They were outside in the parking lot and waitress brought a piece of cake that Tina had not ordered. Ike insisted she must have ordered it and demanded in Tina's word "Eat all of it," and there was no beating. One scene Tina was bothered by most was the scene where Ike rapes her in a recording studio. Both Tina and Ike maintain that this never happened and couldn't have happened as the album recorded on film wasn't recorded at a studio. Tina did however state sometimes Ike would beat her and they would have makeup sex which "felt like rape at times." So while nothing as violent as the film depicts took place, and neither Tina or Ike consider it rape, many people, myself included, might consider that rape and not makeup sex. There is a scene where Ike shows up to Tina's concert and threatens her with guns. Both Ike and Tina have gone on record to say Ike left voicemails and made phone calls wanting her back, but he never showed up at a concert or pulled guns on her.

I wanted to list some, not all, of these inaccuracies to illustrate that sometimes a second hand story is much worse than what actually happens. Despite the exaggeration and embellishment the film does a good job of depicting how terrible abusive relationships can be for everyone involved. Tine and Ike both said the film took extensive liberties but neither of them denied any of the abuse, suicide attempts or public disputes. I don't know if the attempt of the film was to show that these kinds of things can happen to anyone or normalize discussing them, but I feel like it did a good job of that.

It also did a good job of depicting that sometimes people are trying to help and not just getting through. That might be because they can't overpower the abuser or sometimes the victim doesn't want to go, but you can't stop trying.

With that that being said, Angella Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne did a great job in the film. I honestly hated Lawrence for a good 5 five years after I saw the film. Their performances are made better by the fact that Bassett only had 30 days to learn her part. Fishburne was wanted for the role of Ike Turner from the start, but he turned it down four different times because nobody wanted to be Ike, the film didn't explain why Tina would stay for 20 years or if Ike ever had any redeeming qualities. He still turned it down a fifth time and only accepted after hearing Angella Bassett was cast as Tina, because he wanted to work with her. From a film perspective, it's wonderful. There aren't any coverups about how bad abusive relationships can be. It's a good film, but you should prepare yourself before watching.

You can check out some of my fiction at 12 AM Fiction or follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast.
Blerd Film Club: What's Love Got To Do With It  Blerd Film Club: What's Love Got To Do With It Reviewed by Darrell S. on Saturday, February 08, 2020 Rating: 5

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