The Idea of You Movie Review: Anne Hathaway elevates this rudimentary yet realistic romance

The Idea of You Movie Review: Anne Hathaway elevates this rudimentary yet realistic romance

Despite some pacing issues, The Idea of You provides a breath of fresh air in the world of predictable romantic comedies
The Idea of You(3 / 5)

For a while now, OTT platforms have been awash in a sea of predictable romantic comedies, all seemingly cut from the same cloth. At a point, the formula became so ubiquitous that it seemed as if rom-com creators held brainstorming sessions solely to outdo each other in terms of mimicking the same old tropes. This week, a refreshing change of pace has surfaced amidst the predictable rom-com wave. In his adaptation of Robine Lee’s novel The Idea of You, Michael Showalter brings a different dynamic to the love story table. Here, a charismatic celebrity in his mid-20s falls for someone much older—a scenario that Anne Hathaway’s Solene herself describes as, “I could be your mom.” Although a little rudimentary in its execution, the film works for its surprisingly realistic portrayal, as well as the chemistry between the ever-brilliant Anne Hathaway and a promising Nicholas Galitzine.

Director: Michael Showalter

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Nicholas Galitzine, Ella Rubin, Reid Scott

In an early scene in The Idea of You, after a tense conversation with her ex and his wife, Solene (Hathaway) stands in front of a mirror, her irritation simmering, as she mockingly imitates their body language. Much later, in another scene involving a swimming pool, Solene’s insecurities surface, as she opts to cover herself up with clothes as opposed to the other young women donning bikinis. These moments elevate Hathaway's character beyond the typical rom-com heroine. In films like The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, we have seen Hathway’s iconic beauty transformations when she dresses differently or starts wearing makeup. Having grown older since the release of those aforesaid films, she takes on a role in The Idea of You that reflects her real-life age, while retaining the charm and appeal necessary to carry a rom-com. Solene’s character is capable of striking a chord with many older, single women who face insecurities themselves.

Fresh off his portrayal of the charmingly reserved Prince Henry in the book adaptation Red, White & Royal Blue, Nicholas Galitzine sheds his royal persona for a bolder role in The Idea of You. Here, he embodies Hayes Campbell, a British pop star who is a world away from the coy Prince. Galitzine trades restraint for charisma, playing a determined 24-year-old who sets his sights on the captivating Solene, a woman twice his age. The film explores the unconventional dynamic as Hayes, with youthful confidence and undeniable charm, convinces Solene they're a perfect match. Galitzine brings out his best to be the dominant lover, while bringing his charm as a world-famous pop star. Hayes' nuanced portrayal, from his youthful confidence to his surprising depth, suggests the writers invested time in crafting a meaningful character.

Despite its refreshing premise, The Idea of You stumbles when the central characters make impulsive decisions that drive the conflict. These choices sometimes feel unearned and lack proper development, leaving the audience questioning their motivations. For instance, after their meet-cute, Hayes and Solene spend a day trying to bond, but deep-seated trust issues surface between them that stem from past traumas. Despite laying bare their vulnerabilities, a surprising intimacy sparks between them out of nowhere, culminating in a passionate kiss. While Solene is initially against the idea here, she later impulsively decides to go on a world tour with Hayes, leaving us to wonder how she overcame her trust issues this easily. This impulsive decision-making, a potential consequence of condensing the book's narrative into a feature film, creates jarring tonal shifts that leave the audience struggling to connect with the characters' motivations.

In between the whirlwind romance, the film strives to weave in genuine moments that celebrate womanhood. We see Solene's daughter, Izzy, stepping up in a way that highlights their strong bond. Another scene fosters a surprising connection between Solene and her ex-husband's wife. Interspersed throughout are glimpses of Solene's supportive friendship with Tracy (Annie Mumolo), punctuated by witty banter like, "Didn't I warn you? People do not like happy women." These scenes offer a refreshing counterpoint to the fast-paced romance, grounding the film and reminding us of the complexities of women's lives.

The Idea of You is a thought-provoking romantic package that challenges conventions and delivers a happy ending on its own terms. If I were to describe how the film feels, I would say it evokes a feeling of 'everything', just like Solene's response to a particular painting that Hayes asks her about.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Cinema Express