Frequently frustrating yet not without its charms, She is Love ultimately fails to impress. One big missed opportunity after another hang over the film like an ugly scab that cannot be ignored. The mismatched coupling at the center may be to blame. However, both Haley Bennett and Sam Riley are also host to the only memorable aspect: the songs. As a musician, Riley’s Idris becomes inspired and reinvigorated when ex-wife Pat (Bennett), a talent scout hunting for author’s works to be adapted for television, shows up for a boutique hotel booking. Louise (Marisa Abela), Idris’s current girlfriend, returns home in shock to find Pat staying there. The setup is very rom-com lite, but She is Love is certainly no rom-com.
Instead, She is Love focuses on the tragicness of a relationship turned sour. Through every glance and bit of tension between Pat and Idris, the audience calls into question their sordid past. How and why have they not seen one another in nearly a decade? Whatever wedge worked its way between the two takes quite a while to unfurl. Writer/director Jamie Adams tries hard to win the audience over on charm alone. Pat and Idris are playful with each other, whereas Louise is simply existing off to the side, rehearsing ad nauseam for an upcoming audition.
One question came to mind immediately: why was this not a short film? Certainly, it has all the makings of one. The brief runtime leaves little in the room for big dramatic or emotional stakes. Perhaps the one plus side of the shortness is that it remains altogether mercifully brief. The Louise of it all feels shoehorned in to pad the runtime as patience wears thin. If she was excised entirely, and this was just two people who had previously been in love meeting again for the first time, I think She is Love is automatically a better movie.
Alas, it was not to be. Eventually, all that remains is an empty shell of a relationship that feels reflective of the empty shell of a movie that is She is Love. A narrative this loose and unsure of itself needs a proper crutch to get us through the rough patches. As much as Riley and Bennett try their damndest, She is Love is not worthy of anyone’s love, nor their attention.
Lament the loss of connection when She is Love releases in theaters and on Digital on Friday, February 3rd.