Imagine this nightmare scenario: you and your beautiful young girlfriend run a quaint bed and breakfast in the English countryside. Life is calm and happy. Until, in a bizarre twist of fate, your ex-wife shows up as your guest. What an awkward breakfast this would turn out to be, no? This uncomfortable plot provides the basis for writer/director Jamie Adams’ romance, She is Love, a surprisingly fun and touching love story that will be sure to please those yearning for romance.
Patricia (Haley Bennett), in the U.K. for work, gets a call from her assistant informing her that her lodging plans have been altered. Not to worry, though, as he finds her a room in a local inn for the weekend. All goes according to plan until one morning, Patricia hears loud music pumping through the halls. She sneaks downstairs only to find her ex-husband, Idris (Sam Riley), mixing music at his workstation, seemingly unaware that he has a guest.
Idris is an alcoholic musician whose career has undoubtedly plateaued. But when he’s not running the B&B with his lovely girlfriend, aspiring actor Louise (Marisa Abela), he spends his time trying to reacquire that creative spark. But it’s hard to break the bonds of marriage. Even when it’s legally over, love often lingers far longer than one suspects. Soon enough, Patricia and Idris find themselves rehashing what went wrong in their eventful marriage, with poor Louise on the outside looking in.
“…Patricia and Idris find themselves rehashing what went wrong in their eventful marriage…”
She is Love is equal parts funny and touching, and Adams successfully switches registers between the two. The interactions between Idris and Patricia are entertaining. Much of the film hinges upon the tension between the former lovers and whether or not they will rekindle their romance during Patricia’s stay. The question of will they or won’t they surround the entire movie. While I won’t spoil it here, rest assured that there will be ample crying and screaming, as one should expect in a story such as this.
It’s hard not to love Haley Bennett in this. She brings a fun energy and follows up her excellent turns in Cyrano and Swallow with another convincing role as Patricia. This type of role seems to be in her wheelhouse, and it was a great casting decision. Riley, too, appears to be a natural in this environment. The two of them carry most of the picture on their shoulders, but we can’t ignore the work of Abela as the jilted lover (of sorts). She helps round out the casting and provides a much-needed balance.
She is Love has a built-in audience. Those who go for romance will certainly dig it. The film is beholden to its genre (perhaps to a fault), and those that don’t usually go for these kinds of movies won’t miss much by skipping it. It won’t set the world on fire, nor does Adams aim for anything profound. I would argue, though, that today’s cinema needs more comfortable films that stay within the confines of one genre without clumsy aspirations of delivering the next masterpiece. Those looking for their next easy romance flick will find it here.
"…hard not to love Haley Bennett in this."