March 20, 2023
She is love

Film Review – She Is Love (2022)


The traditional rom-com looks like getting a shake-up this spring. Raine Allen-Miller’s Rye Lane (seen earlier this month at Sundance) bursts onto screens in March with its street-smart dialogue and vibrant colours. Before that, it’s Jamie AdamsShe Is Love, a riff on the familiar eternal triangle, but a film that could have gone in a number of directions. Because it’s improvised.

Patricia (Haley Bennett) is in the UK on business and her husband books her into a boutique hotel in the countryside. It all looks idyllic, until she’s woken from her jet-lagged sleep by loud music and discovers the person responsible is her former husband, Idris (Sam Riley). He lives there because the hotel belongs to his girlfriend Louise (Marisa Abela), who innocently took the booking. Patricia may simply be a guest, but her short stay revives memories and feelings that both she and Idris thought were long buried. The atmosphere is awkward and eventually he has to choose ….

As a set-up, we’ve heard and seen it before, but it’s Adams’ approach that gives it a certain freshness. Largely improvised from scratch, it depends on its talented cast to create not just the characters, but the laughs and emotional moments as well. Although the director/writer had something more serious in mind, his original concept turned out to have a sense of humour, one that was impossible to ignore. That’s improv for you. Inevitably, there’s plenty of smiles that come with the awkwardness of the three finding themselves under one roof, but the real humour comes from another and unexpected source. Abela is genuinely funny as Louise, an actress who’s just landed a part and is now struggling with her lines. That, in itself, is entertaining, but it’s her scenes with hotel manager Kate (Rosa Robson) which are gloriously priceless. They’re two people who are so diametrically opposed in just about every way that you wonder how on earth Kate got the job in the first place. But their fruitless efforts to communicate with each other are the highlights of the film.

The improvisation does, however, come with a downside, despite the chemistry between the three leads. Even with a running time of just over 80 minutes, there are scenes which outstay their welcome. They ramble aimlessly, diluting both humour and emotions, and coming close to prompting that tell-tale look at your watch, all of which prompts the thought that there’s actually a short film trying to break out. What saves it is the skill of the cast – Bennett, so cold blooded in Till, has a winning warmth, while Riley has that lethal combination of boyish charm and irresponsibility. They, and the film’s efforts to push boundaries, mean its strong points outweigh its weaknesses. But only just.


Comedy, Romance | Cinemas and digital, 3 February 2023 | Signature Entertainment | Cert: 15 | Dir. Jamie Adams | Sam Riley, Haley Bennett, Marisa Abela, Rosa Robson. | Watch our interview with Sam Riley