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Film: What's Love Got to Do with It

What's Love Got to Do with It? , or "Tina" for re-release purposes, is a 1993 Biopic, based on the 1986 autobiography of Tina Turner. The main stars were Angela Bassett, Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly, and Laurence Fishburne. The film was directed by Brian Gibson, previously known for such films as Breaking Glass (1980) and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986).

The film covers the life of Tina. She's first seen as little Anna Mae Bullock (Kelly), a child born and raised in Tennessee. Then teenage Anna Mae (Bassett) moves in with her mother Zelma Currie-Bullock (Jennifer Lewis) and older sister Alline (Phyllis Yvonne Stickney) in Saint Louis, Missouri. Her sister introduces her to the nightclub scene, where Anna Mae meets musician Ike Turner (Fishburne).

She at first works as Ike's vocalist before becoming his partner "Tina" and then his wife. The film goes on to examine both their music careers and turbulent personal lives through several decades as Ike becomes increasingly unstable and abusive. Eventually she leaves him (they separated in 1976, and the divorce followed in 1978), and goes solo in the music world to great success.

The film features both great renditions of Tina Turner's song and "gut-wrenching scenes of domestic violence". The reviews were mostly positive and the film is still well-regarded. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a positive ranking of 97%. It was a modest box office hit, earning about 39 million dollars in US markets and more than covering its small budget. Fishburne and Bassett were nominated for Oscars as Best Leading Actor and Actress, respectively, but lost.

This film provides examples of:

  • Broken Bird: The film features Tina Turner's take on her own tragic backstory.
  • Disappeared Dad: He leaves Anna Mae at an early age. His eventual fate is not covered.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Inverted. When Tina finally left Ike, the only thing she pursued to keep was her marital name.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After years of abuse and domination by Ike, Tina finally snaps and gives him a nasty beating of his own in a violent dispute in a limo. He still tries to give orders afterwards, but a Death Glare from Tina leads him to back off, signing his gradual loss of dominance over her.
  • Domestic Abuser: Several scenes depict Ike abusing Tina.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Ike's hair gives a handy indicator of what decade we're in: pompadour in the '50s, moptop in the '60s, afro in the '70s, and finally a regular close-shaven look in the '80s.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Painfully subverted with some of Ike's abuse on Tina. Played straight after Tina finally snaps and mauls him in a limo, the shot cuts to outside, only hearing a loud pained scream from Ike. We next see them storm out of the car, both pretty bloodied and shaken.
  • Groin Attack: In the middle of another beating from Ike, Tina punches him off her. Despite a brief shocked pause, he quickly turns on her again, this time earning a very painful kick in the groin.
  • Jerk Ass: Ike's increasingly abusive and envious treatment of Tina in the film borders an out and out Sanity Slippage. Naturally the real life counterpart wasn't too happy about his portrayal.
  • Marital Rape License: Ike Turner pulls a Type A as part of spousal abuse pattern.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: According to Laurence Fishburne, it took a few years for women to stop giving him the evil eye after playing Ike.
  • Mood Whiplash: An in-universe example. In a diner, Ike forces Tina to eat some cake, not too bad considering his character. But Tina refuses, saying it's too early (Breakfast time) but Ike insists, eventually smashing the cake against her face, then Tina, in response, splashes her drink on him, so he smacks her a few times. Then her sister defends Tina, which makes Ike lash out at her then at the other citizens in the diner for not "minding your damn business." Then, as if nothing ever happened there, he exclaims "Dayum, this cake good!" That last line from Ike just makes the scene so outrageously over-the-top that it's hard not to laugh.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: The movie shows Tina's gradual defiance and divorce from Ike, culminating in a fictional scene in which she cooly brushes off a threat at gunpoint, upon which he finally gives up.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both parents abandon Anna Mae for years. Zelda invites a teenaged Anna Mae to move in with her. And makes clear she doesn't want criticism for the abandonment: "Now, don't think you're going to come live in my house and make me feel bad."
  • Playing Gertrude: Jennifer Lewis and Angela Bassett depict a mother-daughter duo. Lewis was 36-years-old at the time, Bassett 35-years-old.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape?Films of the 1990sWittgenstein

alternative title(s): Whats Love Got To Do With It
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