She Is Love
In Jamie Adams’ drama, Haley Bennett and Sam Riley play a pair of volatile exes whose chance encounter, a decade after they split, causes fireworks.
Idris (Riley, Control, SS-GB) runs a small hotel with his partner Louise (Marisa Abela, Industry). Once a pop sensation, Idris is now running headlong into middle age, while Louise is just starting on the path of her aspiration to be an actor. Life is placid, if unexciting. Enter Patricia (Bennett, Cyrano, Till). She’s a successful US literary agent. And Idris’ ex-wife. Her appearance at the hotel is pure coincidence and at first, both seem pleasantly surprised to see each other; their conversation initially plays out like a dance, each wary not to step on the other’s toes. But with a plentiful supply of alcohol, the years peel away and the two edge closer towards the reasons for their break up.
Adams structures his film in a way that gives freedom to his actors to improvise. Their characters’ histories may be well-defined, but how they explore them isn’t limited by a rigid script. It’s an approach to filmmaking that Adams previously employed in his rural 2015 comedy Black Mountain Poets. Here’s the tone is darker, but Riley, Bennett and Abela skilfully convey the simmering emotions of these three characters. Abela hints at the helplessness she feels as the two old flames look back on their time together, while Riley and Bennett gradually reveal the fire that burns in them; the resentment of past actions resurfacing as though they happened yesterday, a deep pain that was never resolved. It’s heady stuff, with Adams’ camera remaining close to the action.