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The Idea of You (A Movie Review)

Updated: 3 days ago


Starring Anne Hathaway, Nicholas Galitzine, Ella Rubin, Reid Scott, Jordan Aaron Hall, Jaiden Anthony, Raymond Cham Jr, Viktor White, Dakota Adan, Annie Mumolo, Perry Mattfeld, Mathilda Gianopoulos, Meg Millidge, Cheech Manohar, Roxy Rivera, Grace Junot, Jon Levine, Demián Castro, Trevor David, Brent Bailey, Chandler Lovelle, Nina Bloomgarden and Graham Norton.

Screenplay by Michael Showalter & Jennifer Westfeldt.

Directed by Michael Showalter.

Distributed by Amazon MGM Studios. 116 minutes. Rated R.

With the backlash that has been washing over Anne Hathaway in recent years, a very simple thing has been forgotten or overlooked by audiences – how extremely good and likable she is in romantic comedies.

Hopefully, The Idea of You will remind everyone of this simple fact. Particularly after the perplexing group of films she has made in recent years – Armageddon Time? The Hustle? Oceans 8? She Came To Me? The Witches? – it is nice to see Hathaway in a project that suits this particular skill set. It’s even nicer to see her knock it out of the park.  

The Idea of You is not a great movie, nor is it particularly realistic, but it is a fun and funny rom com which flies mostly due to the fine work of Hathaway and her co-star Nicholas Galitzine (Red, White and Royal Blue). The two of them together make this film better than it has any right to be.

Based on the surprise hit novel of the same title by actress/writer Robinne Lee, a self-published 2017 piece of mommy romance in which a 40-year-old gets romantically involved with a famous boy-band singer who her daughter was obsessed with. The pop star character may or may not be loosely based on Harry Styles, many people have pointed out similarities but author Lee claims it is not specifically about him, but a mixture of a few celebrities. The novel ended up being so popular that it was officially published by St. Martin’s Press in 2020.

Now four years later, the story has been made into a movie, and frankly a much better movie than you would expect from its pedigree. Smartly written by director Michael Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein, Friends with Kids) and as I said above, wonderfully acted by the stars, The Idea of You does nothing revolutionary with the art form, but it just works.

Sometimes that’s all you need.

Hathaway embraces her age in this role – playing the art-gallery owner, and mother of a teenager with style, grace, confidence and elegance. You can truly see why a much younger man, even one with nearly unlimited choices, would be intrigued by Hathaway’s character of Solène.

Their “meet cute” is kind of ridiculous. Solène has VIP tickets to Coachella so her daughter (who is starting to grow out of her crush on the band August Moon) can go to a meet and greet. Between acts Solène goes looking for the bathroom and mistakes the star’s trailer for a public restroom. She just lets herself into the backstage private trailer. (Where is security?) Singer Hayes Campbell (Galitzine) is so amused by the fact that this hot mother has no idea who he is – and that she is in his personal dressing area – that he becomes infatuated with her beauty, her class and her normalcy.

However, the romance in itself is only half of the story. The Idea of You, much like Notting Hill (a similar and honestly slightly better movie – not that it is a negative not to be as good as that near-masterpiece) looks at the logistics of being in love with someone very famous in a world where tabloids and paparazzi lurk in every corner.

It takes a smart look at the perks and fallbacks of pop stardom – and by the way, the music by the fictional band August Moon is a fairly realistic approximation of boy-band music. Also, the film version of the novel has changed – or at least somewhat softened – the book’s notoriously downbeat ending.

We’ve hit a point in history that it’s fairly rare that you find a romantic comedy which is both romantic and funny, so you have to embrace the good ones even with their imperfections.

More importantly, this film is a huge comeback for Anne Hathaway. Hopefully, this will open up the next act of her career to all sorts of intriguing projects.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2024 All rights reserved. Posted: May 3, 2024.

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