‘She Is Love’ Is A Hard Film To Fall For – Film Review

 Signature Entertainment

In romantic cinema, everything and nothing is a coincidence. This principle governs She Is Love, the prolific director Jamie Adams’ latest feature about a long-separated couple’s chance reunion.

High-flying literary agent Patricia (Hayley Bennett) winds up in an isolated Cornish boutique hotel when her favourite spot is full; after an inauspicious mix-up around checking in, her weekend of rest, relaxation, and gin straight from the bottle seems destined to be uneventful. But the hotel is owned by the new girlfriend of her former husband Idris (Sam Riley), a formerly successful singer looking for his next hit. Her attempts to hide from him fail as the pair are drawn back into a companionship. Soon, talking about their separate lives amidst old familiarity becomes code for the life they left – and the future they never had.

Adams describes She Is Love as the result of an “improvised six-day feature film process,” giving the actors much freedom in shaping the dialogue, pace, and beats of the story, which all unfolds in (almost) a single location over one weekend. It is a huge artistic risk, one he has honed through a free approach to drama that prioritizes characterization and chemistry above all else. Unfortunately, despite stunning lead turns from Bennett and Riley and their easy rapport, the film groans to several halts and false turns, making its 75 minutes feel eternal – unlike its protagonists’ love affair.

 Signature Entertainment

This is not the fault of its leads. Haley Bennett’s luminosity blends the contrast between two sides of Patricia – one a highly successful professional, the other brimming with rebelliousness and recalcitrance in the face of society’s expectations of modern womanhood. She creates a captivating portrait of one who – through some chance and equal determination – laughs at the idea of ‘having it all’ and would be a fascinating social portrait in a better film. Sam Riley bottles Idris’ energy so that earnest creation – and silly dance moves – burst through caution and cynicism all the more effectively. 

Bafflingly wasted, however, is Marisa Abela as Idris’ new girlfriend, Louise – the manager of this boutique hotel who also harbours dreams of being an actress. Her audition practices with the hotel’s staff go on interminably, and she feels less comfortable in the unsaid and unplanned than the more experienced Bennett and Riley. 

She Is Love knows love is difficult, frustrating, and possibly ultimately at odds with contentment in a world with too many other forces at play. Its poignant narrative is never given the opportunity to transcend the idyllic walls of a weekend retreat. She Is Love is a hard film to love with the lack of conditions it begs of Patricia and Idris, but its lead performances grant the film small moments of incandescence.

She Is Love opened in theatres and on-demand on February 3

by Carmen Paddock

Carmen is a Pennsylvanian transplant to Glasgow who writes about film, television, and opera. A lover of maximalism and musicals, much of her writing focuses on cross-media adaptation. Favourite films include West Side Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, Ludwig, Cabaret, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and Moulin Rouge!. She holds a Masters in International Film Business from the University of Exeter / London Film School. Follow her on Twitter @CarmenChloie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.