She is Love, 2022.
Written and Directed by Jamie Adams.
Starring Haley Bennett, Sam Riley, Marisa Abela, Rosa Robson, and Craig Russell.
Coming face-to-face after being estranged for over a decade, divorced couple Idris and Patricia opt to revisit the past and traverse that treacherous path together, emerging open to new beginnings.
If nothing else, writer/director Jamie Adams She is Love has a slight twist on the recent subgenre of pandemic-shot movies involving double-booked hotel rooms on accident. Patricia (Haley Bennett) is a talent scout for writers, consistently traveling for work. On her latest trip, she arranges a room inside a beachside hotel that coincidentally is run by her former rock star ex-husband Idris (Sam Riley) and his current, younger aspiring actress girlfriend Louise (Marisa Abela.)
Naturally, this makes for an awkward silent tension for all parties. Patricia is in disbelief and frustrated that she is having trouble communicating and catching up. Meanwhile, Idris is trying to focus on his new life, while Louise has excitedly just returned home from a successful audition that could potentially mean promising things for her career. Since Idris is preoccupied with figuring out how he will tell Louise about Patricia, her enthusiasm for the role is not necessarily reciprocated. In general, Idris and Louise feel like a mismatched couple that doesn’t have strong feelings for one another.
However, there is also a lack of character depth throughout She is Love, which is frustratingly content, broadly defining them through vague details about their occupations. It’s also revealed that Patricia once wanted to be a novelist, having already written stories during her time with Idris. Simultaneously, she insists his music was entertaining and served a purpose.
Also, if you’re wondering how Idris and Patricia wind up with so much isolated time together, Jamie Adams largely writes Louise out of the environment and story. She is off rehearsing her lines, completely aloof about what she should be doing as an actor. That’s a mild shame considering Marisa Abela is amusing in the slightly comedic role.
Additionally, Haley Bennett and Sam Riley also excel at picking up their dynamic from awkwardness and slowly reconnecting through serious conversations, lighthearted drunken talks that transition into goofball antics such as dressing up as ghosts (it’s as confounding as it is mildly charming to watch), and finally, baggage regarding their breakup rising to the surface which threatens to undo what good has come from the night.
The issue is that She is Love feels like it’s making up conflict as it continues (the credits divulge that some of the dialogue is improvisational, similar to Jamie Adams’ previous films). It also never fully wrestles with any drama that it brings up, quick to deploy licensed music or characters performing. It’s as if no one knows what or who these characters should be beyond the superficial tidbits. In this particular instance, none of this is helped by the single location setting or 79-minute running time primarily consisting of uneventful shot reverse shot dialogue, with both hindering the exploration of these characters.
Unsurprisingly, Idris and Patricia consider possibly starting over again, which still shines through as believable, considering the convincing performances. Otherwise, She is Love is a lot of nothing.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com