She Is Love review – ex-pop star and ex-wife meet again in flimsy romcom

Prolific British film-maker Jamie Adams got me hooked with his 2015 comedy Black Mountain Poets, a laid-back improv-realist caper with Alice Lowe and Dolly Wells – but then he sort of got me unhooked with his Wild Honey Pie! a few years later, a pretty indulgent and directionless film. And now I have to say I am defeated and disappointed by his latest flimsy creation, another let’s-make-up-the-film-right-here exercise which looks as if it was shot under lockdown/bubble conditions, arbitrarily, and frankly uninterestingly, marooned in a single location: a Cornish boutique hotel.

The air of sheepish pointlessness becomes pretty wearing after a while, despite the undoubted quality of his lead actors. As so often, Adams assembles a classy transatlantic cast: Sam Riley plays Idris, a former pop star whose career has stalled; he is now living with a younger partner, Louise (Marisa Abela) who appears to own or manage the hotel where they both live, but – rather bafflingly – Louise’s real vocation appears to be acting. She is fanatically running her lines for a tricky upcoming audition callback. So what’s with the hotel? Was she left it in someone’s will?

Then a guest shows up – apparently the only guest the hotel has that weekend – and this is a high-flying American literary agent, Patricia, played by Haley Bennett. And Patricia is in fact, Idris’s ex-wife. She has had no contact with him for years since their painful and acrimonious breakup and had no idea he would be there. Then we are basically in for long, long, long rambling scenes together as they loosen up over a couple of gallons of whisky while Louise is off doing something else and their tragically sombre backstory is disclosed. We even have to sit through an extended, boozy-maudlin singing performance of Danny Boy – and excellent though Riley’s voice is, my rule is: in art as in life, when someone starts singing Danny Boy with their eyes closed, it’s time to close the bar. A waste of great talent, sadly.

• She Is Love is released on 3 February in UK cinemas and on digital platforms.