What's Love Got to Do with It (1993 film): A Tale of Resilience and Triumph

Angela Bassett was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Tina Turner. What's Love Got to Do with It is more than a biographical film; it's a story of strength, resilience, and the...

Angela Bassett as Tina Turner Angela Bassett was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Tina Turner.

What's Love Got to Do with It is more than a biographical film; it's a story of strength, resilience, and the indomitable human spirit. Directed by Brian Gibson and written by Kate Lanier, the film captures the extraordinary life of American singer-songwriter Tina Turner. Adapted from Tina's autobiography "I, Tina," the movie stars Angela Bassett as Tina Turner and Laurence Fishburne as her abusive husband, Ike Turner.

The film takes us on a journey through Tina's life, from her humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, to her rise to stardom as a rock superstar. Along the way, we witness her struggles, triumphs, and the power of love and determination. Despite facing immense adversity, Tina never gave up on her dreams.

A Tale of Triumph and Resilience

Raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, Tina's world is shattered when her mother leaves, taking her sister with her. However, with the support of her grandmother, she finds solace and strength. Years later, a teenage Tina reunites with her mother and sister in St. Louis. It is here that she encounters the charismatic bandleader Ike Turner, who becomes her mentor and lover.

As Tina's talent blossoms, she becomes the frontwoman of Kings of Rhythm and forms a backing girl group, the Ikettes. Their hit song, "A Fool in Love," propels them to local fame. But as their popularity grows, so does the tension between Tina and Ike. The film powerfully captures the moments of both love and abuse that defined their relationship.

Overcoming Adversity

Tina's journey is not without its dark moments. She endures physical and emotional abuse at the hands of Ike, who becomes consumed by drugs and insecurities. However, Tina's inner strength and resilience shine through even in the darkest times. After a suicide attempt, she finds solace in Buddhism and discovers a newfound confidence.

As the duo's fame reaches new heights, Tina's star begins to outshine Ike's. Their performances captivate audiences worldwide, but behind the scenes, their relationship continues to deteriorate. Eventually, Tina finds the strength to leave Ike, taking control of her life and pursuing her dreams as a solo artist.

Phenomenal Performances and Critical Acclaim

Angela Bassett delivers a breathtaking performance as Tina Turner, capturing her physicality, voice, and indomitable spirit. Laurence Fishburne brings depth and complexity to the role of Ike Turner, highlighting the complexities of an abusive relationship. Their performances earned them nominations at the 66th Academy Awards, with Bassett winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

The film's critical reception was overwhelmingly positive, with praise for the performances and the compelling storytelling. Janet Maslin from The New York Times hailed Laurence Fishburne's portrayal of Ike Turner as "brilliant and mercurial." Gene Siskel from the Chicago Tribune called it a "powerful, joyful, raw, energetically acted biopic."

A Cinematic Triumph

What's Love Got to Do with It not only tells Tina Turner's story but also celebrates the indomitable power of the human spirit. It is a testament to resilience, triumph, and the pursuit of one's dreams against all odds. The film's historical accuracy may be subject to some fictionalization, but its core message remains intact.

This cinematic triumph grossed $61 million worldwide and left an indelible mark on audiences. It continues to be recognized as a remarkable biopic, garnering critical acclaim and numerous award nominations. What's Love Got to Do with It remains a timeless tale of inspiration, reminding us that love, strength, and determination can overcome even the greatest challenges.


  • Cawthorne, Nigel; Turner, Ike (1999). Takin' Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner. Virgin Books. ISBN 9781852278502.
  • Turner, Tina; Loder, Kurt (1986). I, Tina: My Life Story. William Morrow & Co. ISBN 978-0-68805-949-1.