She Is Love, a film about a retweet who was picked for the London Film Festival in 2022, brings Sam Riley (Rebecca) and Haley Bennett (Magazine Dreams) together in a Cornish country house as an estranged couple.
She Is Love, directed and written by Jamie Adams, explores rekindled connections, puts to rest emotional baggage, and reminds viewers that sometimes people from the past should never be forgotten. Over a short runtime, this film trades in the emotional currency of two individuals who reconnect unexpectedly after ten years of separation.
Patricia (Bennett) is on her way to England from America on business, and the boutique hotel she has booked is owned by Idris (Sam Riley). Surrounded by Cornish countryside, she is blissfully isolated and succumbs to jet lag almost immediately, and she retires to get some rest.
Patricia is roused by pounding dance music from downstairs, hidden under the covers, wearing headphones. Rake thin, unshaven, but inherently healthy despite appearances, he discovers Patricia.
As the cosmic coincidence of this occasion strikes home, she walks swiftly back downstairs with an intrigued Idris in hot pursuit. So begins a gentle game of re-acquaintance, as these erstwhile divorcees tiptoe around each other and remember everything they loved and loathed in equal measure.
From that point on, the film revolves around them, with occasional segments to include minor supporting actors in this two-handed character study. Any initial dramatic friction comes from awkward scenes shared between Idris, Patricia, and Louise, since it quickly becomes evident that his new girlfriend Louise feels threatened by this old flame.
Any confrontational scenes that occur during the film, which is primarily dialogue-heavy, or have to be melodrama, are either lacking in character development for Louise; she may be an aspiring actress on auditions, but audiences learn little more.
Idris and Patricia spend long periods of time spouting nostalgic phrasing and rekindling old ties. Their initial meeting, that first spark of physical interest, and emotional beats throughout their relationship are all explored in this 80-minute film. In fact, Louise and her sister Kate (Rosa Robson) are nothing more than dramatic window dressing.
Patricia and Idris get drunk and roam around this vast country pile playing dress-up, but Louise remains in her room running lines and looking sullen. Predictably, their alcoholic cavorting soon turns to recrimination when Idris foolishly declares his intentions to be a father – but by that point She Is Love has begun to sag.
Limited by location and lacking any capacity to enlarge the characters beyond their shared memories, this film suddenly goes into a halt as the cast resorts to full blown melodrama. Poignancies are replaced by emotional meltdowns, subtle moments of pathos are reduced to floods of tears, while plot wise characters tread water.
If there is one fundamental flaw above all, it's a lack of narrative. She Is Love is surprisingly thin in the plot department, whether they're self-imposed due to budgetary constraints or were only available for a brief period. The fact remains that things suffer as a result.
Riley and Bennett strive to get something from the material, but it becomes apparent early on that they are at a disadvantage. Conversations go round in circles, segues between scenes are almost theatrical in their construction, and both actors are really struggling to establish a chemistry. Only Chris Hyson's original score elevates this film, as he draws real emotional connection from his classical music.
She Is Love may also be overly long, especially at 80 minutes without the credits. At worst, this idea could and should have been broken down into short films, rather than stretched into a feature-length project. Had Adams cut off 20 minutes to bring it in at an hour, it might have turned out to be a tightly scripted two-hander instead.