The thing about ghosts is that, even though they?ve died, they continue to haunt you.
Written and directed by Jamie Adams,?She is Love?tells the story of Idris and Louise (Sam Riley and Marisa Abela), a young couple who have opened a country inn. Deeply in love, the two have their world shaken when Idris? ex-wife Patricia (Haley Bennett) arrives unexpectedly. After many years without seeing one another, Patricia has booked a room for herself, sending shockwaves through the home and their relationships with one another.
Strangely, what?s most striking about Love is how quiet a film that it becomes. While there are moments where emotions are unleashed, the vast majority of the film seems almost silent yet never quiet. In the strangest of ironies, She is Love is the loudest noiseless film that you?ve seen in years. Rather than pepper the script with endless scenes of exposition, Adams instead allows his actors to perform with minimal dialogue (or even whispers). As a result, Adams takes a will they/won?t they romance and makes it feel like performance art. For example, while we eventually learn details of Patricia and Idris? breakup, much of the tension exists in the shared glances between them. History breeds contempt?and the two are allowed to express themselves via facial expressions and intense glares.
Before we even know what happened between them, we know how it felt.
Admittedly, for a film like this to work, it requires some strong performances from its cast. In many ways, this feels like a piece of performance art that necessitates quality chemistry from actors who trust one another. And, thankfully, this is perhaps Love?s greatest strength. Featuring some wonderful work from Bennett, Riley and Abela, Love works primarily due to their connections onscreen. Wisely, Adams steps back and lets his cast steal the spotlight in almost every scene. Even in its stranger moments, Bennett and Riley manage to make their conversations feel authentic and real. There?s a genuine heat between them, whether it stems from past love or current rage. Even Abela?s (intentionally) repetitive line reads seem meaningful as her comments about ?talking about the weather? feel relevant to the real story taking place around her. Their performances give the film life.
Interestingly, She is Love is also very much a ghost story. Although no ghouls appear onscreen (other than one instance with a bed sheet), Adams leans fully into the fact that relationships contain stirs and echoes from the past that can still shape the present. Troubled by their mistakes, Idris and Patricia?s bond was severed with bitterness and hurt. Despite the fact that they had both moved on with their lives, neither of them ever fully healed from their break-up. As a result, when they both stumble into one another?s worlds once again, even their pleasantries contain whispers of hurt and judgment. Pregnant with pain, their exchanges are awkward at best and noxious at worst. (?It feels like coming home and, right now, it feels like I?m at my funeral,? Patricia remarks.) In this way, Love highlights the need to occasionally unearth the past in order to build a healthier future. While rebuilding a relationship may (or may not) be possible, the only way to fully restore the foundation is to dig up hurts that plague us and properly put them away for good.
While it?s never fun, She is Love suggests that it can help us heal.
She is Love is available on VOD on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.