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Film Review: The Idea of You


The Idea of You
Director: Michael Showalter

Somewhere Pictures 
Streaming on Prime Video 05.02

The chances of finding a romantic dramedy that takes place in anything resembling the real world are slim anyway, and considering the fact that The Idea of You ups the ante by throwing a boy band into the mix, you can’t go in to the film expecting relatability.

Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, Les Misérables) stars as Solène, a 40-year-old single mother who runs an art gallery, who is stuck chaperoning her 17 year daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin, The Girl From Plainville), and her friends on a trip to the Coachella Music Festival. Solène’s ex-husband, Daniel (Reid Scott, The Marvelous Mrs..Maisel) buys the tickets as a gift, along with a meet and greet package with the trendy boy band August Moon, only to bail at the last minute. Through a quirk of meet cute fate, Solène crosses paths with Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine, Bottoms, Red, White & Royal Blue), the 24-year-old lead singer, and they form an immediate and intense connection. When Hayes shows up at Solène’s art gallery, a whirlwind romance ensues. The inevitable obstacles that come with Hayes’ celebrity status cast a bright spotlight on their relationship, and Solène quickly realizes that navigating life in the glare of his fame isn’t easy and catches others in the crossfire.

The Idea of You is the kind of “based on the novel that you bought at the airport and is now serving as a coaster” modern day fairytale romance that takes place on an island of white privilege where even the regular people use $50 bills as toilet paper, and it all feels considerably less relatable than most Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings. The good news is that is that it’s far more charming than the average Nicholas Sparks-style melodrama, and while it’s mired in clichés, it does explore some interesting themes of lost youth, broken trust and self discovery. Solène and Hayes have both had their lives dictated by the roles that they became trapped in at a young age, whether its young pregnant woman-turned divorced single mother or teenage performer turned pop superstar. The angst and vulnerability of Hayes is more sympathetic than you might expect: he knows he’s a joke to serious musicians with a limited shelf life as part of a gimmicky fad, perfectly demonstrated by the fact that Solène’s daughter has already outgrown the fandom, labeling it “so seventh grade.  The sexist double standards as Solène is branded a disgraceful cougar, and the hypocrisy of ex-husband Daniel, who left for a younger woman and now finds finds the shoe on other foot, are all quite predictable and by the numbers.

Hathaway is a gem who has added sparkle to dumber romances than this one (both on screen and in real life) and she’s the primary reason the movie works at all, smoothing out the rougher elements of the script with her presence. Galitzine is quite appealing, and while they never make an entirely believable couple, there’s just enough chemistry to suspend disbelief. While Galitzine does a terrific job with singing, the sequences of August Moon performing run too long and Rubin is so well cast as as Hathaway’s daughter that it’s almost unsettling. 

The Idea of You is a manufactured soap opera with scattered laughs and very appealing stars that make it play as decent disposable entertainment. While it may benefit from a middle aged target audience that doesn’t have to pay extra to stream it at home, it feels tailored made as girl’s night out or date movie, and it may lose something as a streaming exclusive. — Patrick Gibbs

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