The Idea of You

The Idea of You
The Idea of You
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To fall in love with “the idea of” someone is a complex thought that cannot easily be defined. It generally implies falling for an idealized version of a person and turning a blind eye to their flaws, while also giving in to the want of being desired. But where does it stop being about ‘falling in love with the idea of’ and start with simply falling in love? Is love enough once you’re there or do others’ perception of the idea of you eat away at it? These are the questions at the heart of Amazon Prime Video’s sweet and thoughtful romantic drama The Idea Of You, starring Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine.

The Idea Of You takes the Notting Hill formula — normal person becomes romantic partner to wildly famous individual, struggles to maintain normal healthy relationship while being judged by whole world — and updates it in every sense of the word, where now tabloid press is 24-hour social media comments. There is no escape from the scrutiny now.

The main update that The Idea Of You makes to this formula is flipping genders on partners – man as celebrity, woman as everyday person – also making there considerable age gap between them as 40-year-old mother begins relationship with 24-year-old singer. This small change goes long way towards elevating The Idea Of You from simple rom-com setup into fascinating commentary about how much media and fandom hate women but especially older women.

At its core level story revolves around 40 year-old single mom Solène Marchand (Hathaway) who after her husband (Reid Scott) left for younger woman couple years prior still trying find herself. At his request due last minute business trip he asks her take their teenage daughter Izzy (Ella Rubin) Coachella for meet greet with once favorite boy band August Moon.

In surprising twist events she starts having romance with band’s 24 year old lead singer Hayes Campbell (Galitzine). They eventually become subject tabloids and social media, despite their best efforts to keep it secret, with world giving most hate towards Solène. Two of them are left wondering whether this new found love can really go distance or if it will be short lived affair.

The Idea Of You is definitely two-hander between Hathaway and Galitizine but Hathaway walks away with movie. She has always been one best actresses working, following Oscar win Les Miserable got lot unwanted hate from media outlets then bled into public discourse creating toxic narrative around her that thankfully most people have moved past.

This makes casting her as woman vilified by the media inspired casting that also allows for many subtleties which can be brought out by someone like Anne who has had so much personal experience dealing with these things herself. She’s just such commanding presence in film and gives Solène both confidence paradoxical uncertainty about herself at once, all while delivering very naturalistic performance. It truly is hard to imagine anyone else doing justice to role other than Anne Hathaway

One of the most exciting young actors to emerge in recent years, Nicholas Galitzine’s back-to-back performances in Red, White and Royal Blue, and Bottoms were so different from each other that it showed how much range he has. The former was a more typical romance while the latter was an over-the-top hyper-exaggerated comedy, but neither film did anything by halves – especially him. Bottoms in particular saw him giving some of the funniest line readings I’ve seen all year.

Here Galitzine stars as what is essentially a traditional dreamy romance novel love interest; the ultimate object of Solène’s desire, if you will. But it doesn’t treat him like one. Hayes Campbell is a joke; a young musician who knows he’s talented but feels like nobody takes him seriously because they really shouldn’t. And this does a good job of balancing out their dynamic to where both characters feel fleshed out — the movie never talks down to him or any of its younger characters for that matter because despite his age he’s just as capable of making his own choices. By the end there’s no doubt he has the presence of a star.

Chemistry-wise it’s apparent from their first meet-cute that Hathawawy and Galitzine have it — literally nobody else could play these characters — and thankfully the movie quickly allows them to meet because we need them together to be able to get right into their courtship which takes up pretty much all of act one (and I wouldn’t have complained if it took up even more). Like a good romance novel should it truly builds the tension there until you’re leaning forward in your seat dying for them to kiss already because their first “date” is such an accurate honest depiction of getting to know somebody for the first time: asking questions, choosing what to reveal about yourself, discovering more about them with every answer.

Michael Showalter has always been great at these real romances that balance comedy and intimacy — from the much loved The Big Sick to the underrated gems of Hello, My Name is Dorris and Spoiler Alert and I’m telling you now his new movie has all those things we love about his other movies but with even more of both because it’s not only a larger scale production but also a truer sensuality which is so often missing from mainstream romances.

Based on actress/writer Robinne Lee’s 2017 book of the same name (adapted for screen by Showalter and co-writer Jennifer Westfeldt), The Idea of You definitely feels like it was made in 2022. And despite being set in Hollywood showbiz it doesn’t feel like it was made for people who know Hollywood showbiz — which is great because, let’s be honest, we don’t! But what I mean by that is: this movie very much taps into the cultural zeitgeist right now while still feeling like a story that society keeps repeating over & over again without ever learning its lesson.

August Moon could easily stand in for either One Direction or NSYNC; Hayes Campbell for either Harry Styles or Justin Timberlake. And the film’s commentary on an older woman being with a younger man of one generation (likely those around Hathaway’s character’s age) echoes how the media scrutinized Demi Moore’s relationship with Ashton Kutcher in the early 2000s.

Dating Olivia Wilde for nearly two years in public sight while shooting Don’t Worry Darling does make the Harry Styles comparison more apt — it became a major Hollywood trade gossip story, and she received some incredibly nasty comments from his fans — but even if the book had been published four years earlier and this movie was deep into casting then, it’s impossible not to see the parallels. That it is timely now but also has so many other reference points an audience can make speaks to how this is not an issue that has gotten better with time.

Some have said The Idea of You is a piece of Harry Styles fan-fiction, which is not factually correct about the book itself or accurate about what happens in the text; this isn’t about solid wish-fulfillment so much as it is a deconstruction of fandom and parasocial relationships between fans and their favorite creators as seen through their romantic partner’s eyes. Once everyone knows Solène and Hayes are secretly dating, however, the movie takes off.

As soon as they become characters no longer safe from media scrutiny, though, the sweet intimate love story we’ve been watching unfold for an hour turns into a critique of tabloid culture. Early on, we learn that most of its coverage focuses on Solène because she’s older than him: One-dimensional portrayals of women are older than 30 who get written off as desperate cougars looking for one last fling before menopause when really what they’re doing should be recognized as empowering self-care that wouldn’t be possible were society less ageist. Older men being with younger women like me are considered normal and hardly ever remarked upon or thought twice about? Fair enough! But let him date someone his own age who makes him happy–oh boy!

By the end of this film they are so deeply in love with each other but every force in world seems determined to keep them apart forever; there’s no escaping hate when social media makes it a 24-hour hating on Solène fest. So the movie also shows how mean-spirited and outright cruel comments can be — attacking her as mother, trying paint predator because he’s grown – and highlights them as such, attacking him by making someone he loves (and who loves him back) miserable pushing away from him people like that loved least wanted most life ruined her damn own fault anyway might not have been wise choice but oh well she knew what she signed up for why should we feel sorry? Those fans want them to break up so badly for some unjust reason they end making him miserable pushing away anyone he loves making him miserable pushing away anyone he loves this is an romance with plenty on its mind and by movie end it can feel every minute of runtime but also as good a commentary on peoples’ attachment to celebrities as any other romance.

Michael Showalter may be one of our most consistently reliable mid-budget character-driven filmmakers working today; his filmography is filled with gems. The Idea of You is another great entry in that vein from the director, featuring strong performances all around—especially Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine—and serving as a delightful start to the summer movie season for those who feel they’re above romantic comedies even though secretly everyone likes them.

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