The idea of You (2024) – Review by Andrea Carnevali

The idea of You ⭐ ⭐ ⭐½

Solène, a 40-year-old single mother, begins an unexpected romance with 24-year-old Hayes Campbell, the lead singer of August Moon, the hottest boy band on the planet. Streaming on Prime from Thursday 2 May.

Once in a while I like to mix things up and watch things I wouldn’t normally be particularly interested in. So, when a ticket for preview of the latest romantic comedy starring Anne Hathaway landed on my inbox, I decided to take a gamble and went for it, without even knowing what it was all about. And you know what? The gamble sort of paid off.

The Idea of You may look like just another one of those many disposable rom-coms, with possibly one of the most generic titles ever (only matched by an even more generic poster), but I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that not only did I warm up to it pretty quickly, but I actually enjoyed it quite a lot too.

Yes, the script is unapologetically formulaic and you certainly won’t need a crystal ball to find out where it’s all heading, but the two leads are so incredibly likeable (and beautiful to look at) and their chemistry so genuine and palpably real that you must have a heart of stone not to be swept away by its silly charm too.

This is a sort of Notting Hill with the roles reversed. If you remember, in that film from 1999 (possibly still one of the best in its genre), a mega-film-star played by Julia Roberts fell in love with the average-Joe (and owner of a bookstore in Notting Hill), played by Hugh Grant. In The Idea of You, adapted from Robinne Lee’s 2017 novel with the same (generic) title, it’s the Mega-star singer of a boyband, played by the unbelievably cute Nicholas Galitzine, who falls in love with 40-years old, art gallery owner and divorcee played by Anne Hathaway.

The similarities between the two films are many, and while the script by Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt might not be as sharp and refined as its predecessor (and nor it’s original, obviously), it does use these well-trodden premises as an entry point to touch on several other issues, like that of an older woman dating a much younger guy, celebrity culture, toxic fandom and internet trolls.

Nothing too deep, of course, but just enough to resonate in the distance and give it a little bit of depth. Overall, this is diverting enough and played with a lot of heart by the rather magnificent Anne Hathaway, who sells it with so much ease that it’s near to impossible not to fall for it.

The Bafta audience I saw this with (notoriously quite uptight and silent) exploded into a spontaneous applause at the end. I’m sure some of them must have felt a little bit dirty and guilty, for liking such a trivial derivative and old-fashioned film. I certainly did…

This is, after all, pure escapism which doesn’t claim to be a lot more than that, and you know what? Sometimes there is nothing wrong with that.

The Idea of You is streaming on Prime from Thursday 2 May.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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