Despite its enchanting title, there’s not a lot to love about She Is Love, an experimental drama from writer/director Jamie Adams.
Adhering to a spontaneity that Adams bestowed upon her cast, She Is Love has potential in its premise and lead trio – Haley Bennett, Sam Riley and Marisa Abela – but there’s ultimately only so much that can be done without a navigated script on hand.
The situation on hand here sees Bennett’s Patricia, a New York-based TV producer, take a little time off for herself in an out-of-the-way boutique hotel in Cornwall, South West England. Of all the weekends she happens to be there, so is her ex-husband, Idris (Riley), a rock star-turned-DJ whose loud deck spinning is what draws Patricia’s attention to his room.
Whilst they are aware that the two being in such a small vicinity together isn’t ideal, it’s evident that they still have an affection for each other and they vow to make the best of their time around each other. Being stuck in a no-cell-serviced area with your ex is one thing, but then the kicker of Adams’ non-script comes to fruition in that the hotel is actually run by Idris and his girlfriend Louise (Abela, soon to be seen as Amy Winehouse in her biopic, Back to Black), an aspiring actress who, understandably, is just as awkward in her footing around Patricia and, eventually, Idris.
Any comedic possibility brought forth by such a situationally humorous idea is void from the get-go, with She Is Love proving that, in spite of capable performers who are committed to the improvisational temperament of the film, it needs structure to move forward in an engaging-enough manner. Bennett and Riley have a certain chemistry about them – you believe these two have a history together – but their chosen dialogue becomes aimless and frustratingly cyclical as they allude to their past together without delving beyond their frustration; Patricia’s mention of Idris’s deceased father also doesn’t earn the emotional investment it should, due to it feeling like an immediate, convenient ploy to pivot their conversations.
All doing the best they can do throughout – even Abela takes the smallest of outlines and runs with it, with a particular sequence of her being frustrated at trying to deliver a line of dialogue from a script she’s received in the right manner (perhaps she was tapping into the reality of her own situation as an actress being told to improvise) – the cast is ultimately unable to make She Is Love as engaging as they want it to be. There’s a lack of motivation present in these characters, with them succumbing to an aimlessness that may have a certain edge of reality, but proves frustratingly random and detaches us as viewers in the process.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
She Is Love is now playing in select theatres in the United States and is available to rent and/or buy On Digital and On Demand, including iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.