The Idea of You

Tell me if you recognize this: A couple in love, one American, one British, one the owner of a tiny, niche business, content with family and friends but a bit lost and lonely, and one a worldwide celebrity who is also a little lost and lonely. They are both incredibly lovely. There’s also a reason why the celebrity must go to the common person’s house, where they are greeted with an offensive drink, given a meaningful painting as a present, and constantly harassed by paparazzi.

Yes, “The Idea of You” has a lot of the same characteristics as “Notting Hill.” The screenwriters Michael Showalter (who also directed) and Jennifer Westfeldt, whose better pictures have more texture, have produced a glossier but less effective piece. Here, they draw inspiration from a well-liked Robinne Lee book. “Included on The Skimm’s 2020 list of Eight Books Both You and Mom Will Love,” according to the book’s Amazon synopsis. Maybe they went too far in providing fan service, thinking that their stars would make up for the gaps in the screenplay. They have some partiality. Acting as the “older woman” of forty, Anne Hathaway is still as glamorous as she was as an ingenue, and Nicholas Galitzine, who is quickly becoming famous, is an adorable Prince Charming.

The Idea of You

Hathaway portrays Solène Marchand, a divorced mother of high school student Izzy (Ella Rubin) and owner of a tiny art gallery in the hip Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. Daniel (Reid Scott), the ex-husband of Solène, is more adept at wasting money on Izzy than spending time with her. He has bought VIP passes for Coachella so that Izzy can meet and greet August Moon, a boy band she hasn’t liked since seventh school. Daniel abruptly cancels the festival to go on a business trip, forcing Solène to forgo her intentions to go camping by herself in order to bring Izzy and her friends to the performance.

This story’s attempt at a meet-cute occurs when Solène somehow misidentifies a singer’s trailer for a port-a-potty. The vocalist is 14-year-old Hayes Campbell (Galitzine), a poor little rich child who has been a musical success since he tried out for a boy band at 14. He is drawn to Solène because of her extraordinary beauty (I mean, it’s Anne Hathaway after all) and normalcy—that is, her inability to recognize him. After finding her at her art gallery and purchasing everything there, he goes to her house for lunch where they discuss their trust concerns and end up kissing because he is always being followed by reporters and admirers.

Everything is going OK so far. This, however, is the point at which it transforms from a fairy tale with a tenuous premise into a big, juicy target for one of those YouTube snarkfests about implausible characters and flaws in the plot. They apparently believe Solène can travel over Europe with the band and make out in public without anybody noticing, even though Hayes has lived in 2024 and has spent almost half of his life under constant attention from fans and the media. They did considerably lessen the oooky element by making Hayes older by four years from the novel’s age of 20, but they don’t give him much of a personality other than that of a forlorn and sensitive guy whose quick and constant attachment speaks solely of his perfect boyfriend-ness.

Similar to how little Solène’s character is developed—still hurt by her ex, adoring her daughter, even though they sing along to St. Vincent in the car—she is also enhanced by her support of local artists and, later on, understandably confused about whether dating a pop star who is seven years her senior is a good idea. Hayes, though, has much less at his disposal. His sole characteristics are his romantic feelings for Solène and his potential songwriting ambitions. It’s important to note that the movie has some excellent tracks, both needle drops and original.

Hathaway and Galitzine would be in the running for Oscars if they were given out for besting poorly conceived characters. Even if the romantic aspect of the story may not be as satisfying to many viewers as the romantic retaliation against her unfaithful ex, we nevertheless find ourselves cheering for Solène and Hayes to succeed despite their unrealistic circumstances.

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