Isaac, a successful musician, based in London has come back to New Zealand to play the summer season at the beaches of the Coromandel. Five years ago, he walked out on his wife Jess to go to Australia and hasn’t been back since. Part of the reason he is back is to quiet some echoes from his past and also to make peace with Jess.
At first Jess rejects Isaac’s overtures, but eventually, drawn in by the memories of the shared past he weaves around her she agrees to be friends and to spend a month with him.
Isaac and Jess each find the other has changed a lot. Jess is more assertive and critical of some of the things Isaac does. Isaac has become wary of relationships and avoids any commitment; he makes it really clear their time together is temporary and after summer is he is going back to his life in London.
Isaac’s resentment of Jess’s relationship with her boss which was part of the reason he left, Jess’s anger at the way he left and the grief both of them feel over the death of their daughter Isabelle, create a minefield.
And Isaac’s bandmates, Miles and Toby point out that if Jess is going to spend the summer with them, she is going to hear the lyrics of the new songs he’s written. The songs are about their lifestyle, an endless catalogue of drinking, partying, sex and drugs. Isaac plays the songs to her, she accepts that is the way he has been living and eventually they achieve something like peace and start to enjoy their time together,
Toby works out that when Isaac was managing Jess’s expectations, he left out an important part. While they are travelling, they use seduction as a sport, it’s a game with planned moves, rules and keeping score. Isaac has stopped playing while he is with Jess and Toby accuses him of being frightened of his wife. He starts baiting him when Jess is around. As Toby makes his comments Jess becomes aware of the game, makes derogatory remarks about it and Isaac resents them.
Jess however is still in love with Isaac and wants what she used to have, a husband and child but when she starts to act possessive, he walks away from her again.
At the hotel he decides he has made a mistake and goes back to Jess but it is still only a temporary arrangement.
During the next three months he’s with Jess he writes songs for a new album and in the songs, he explores his life and their relationship. He decides he loves her, and he wants to be with her.