8 May 2024

Movie review: The Idea of You

From At The Movies, 7:00 pm on 8 May 2024

The Idea of You imagines what would happen if a 40-year-old gallery owner fell in love with a 24-year-old singer in a boy band.

I'm generally prepared to see Anne Hathaway in anything but The Idea of You certainly put that to the test.

Could Annie save it from being as frightful as it looked?

Yes she could, though to be fair, she had some help. And to be even fairer, she hired much of that help herself as producer of the film.

Top of the list was a young English actor called Nicholas Galatzine who's about as close to Harry Styles as you can get. He's young, he's pretty, he can act and more to the point he can sing.

In particular, Galatzine captures both the professionalism and the essential meaninglessness of the whole modern boy-band experience.

How did you guys get together, asks Anne Hathaway's character, Solène, who runs an art gallery? 'I applied', admits actor-turned-singer Hayes Campbell.

Yes, her name is Solène, and she's a divorcee mum but a cool mum. She takes her daughter to pop festival Coachella to catch her favourite boy band August Moon.

Cue "meet cute". Solène blunders into Hayes Campbell's trailer, thinking it's the public toilet.

OMG! To nobody's surprise, Hayes is smitten by the gorgeous Solène, to the extent that he dedicates a song to her that night.

One thing leads to another and that's pretty much all there is to the movie.

But it's to the credit of Anne Hathaway, Nicholas Galatzine and it should be added, old pro director Michael Showalter, that the relationship between Hayes and Solène is far more believable than it deserves. Certainly more so than those terrible names.

With no other plans, Solène goes on the road with August Moon, even though she has her doubts. What will happen when the news gets out, she wonders?

And just as most of us are wondering who'd care, we're answered halfway through the film. There are photos, it goes viral, social media is aghast. It turns to custard, in other words.

And while the plot is ostensibly about hypocrisy - how no-one would blink an eye if the roles were reversed - it's takes a few swipes at the corrosive effect of popular culture - initially the tabloids, and these days social media.

Mind you, The Idea of You is about hypocrisy too of course. Come in, Solène's dodgy ex-husband, complete with his own new trophy wife.

Daniel's possibly only jealous because he hasn't got a cool name like Solène or Hayes.

The Idea of You benefits enormously from the fact that it doesn't actually depend entirely on its clickbait premise.

Clearly star and producer Anne Hathaway avoided going to EL James for any tips, thus avoiding most of the pitfalls of 50 Shades of Grey.

Instead The Idea of You surprised me by being a story of two likeable characters glittering with star quality, with a side-order of cracks at popular culture.

Turns out that was exactly what I wanted this week. You can find it on streaming service Prime Video.

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