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‘The Idea of You’ Review: Anne Hathaway Anchors Michael Showalter’s Fluctuating Story Of Unconventional Romance – SXSW

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In Michael Showalter’s The Idea of You, based on the novel by Robinne Lee, Amazon MGM Studios brings to the screen a narrative that tantalizes with the prospect of exploring the complexities of love, age disparity and the pursuit of happiness in the digital age. Anchored by Anne Hathaway’s Solene, a single mother and art gallery owner, and Nicholas Galitzine’s Hayes Campbell, a young pop star from the fictional band August Moon, the film sets its sights on charting the course of an unconventional romance, but the script muddles it all up to produce a somewhat funny, somewhat entertaining, albeit overly long romantic comedy.

Solene is a Californian art gallery owner and single mother who had initially planned a solo camping trip. However, her plans are rerouted when she assumes the responsibility of taking her daughter Izzy (Ella Rubin) to Coachella, after Izzy’s father, Daniel (Reid Scott), is detained by work commitments. Seeking a moment of peace amid the festival’s chaos, Solene retreats to a trailer for a bathroom break, which leads her to a serendipitous meeting with Hayes.

The highlight comes when Hayes dedicates a performance of “Closer” to Solene, marking the beginning of an unforeseen connection. Drawn to her indifference towards his fame, Hayes pursues Solene, sparking the question: Will she embrace the possibility of romance with a younger man, or will her reservations about their age difference hinder her pursuit of happiness?

The Idea of You shines when it delves into the introspection and self-awareness that comes with significant life milestones. Solene’s foray into the dating world, post-40, encapsulates the awkwardness of adulthood and the narrowing of options that accompanies it. This is compounded by the consideration of a younger partner, which the film approaches with a candidness. 

Yet, where it aims to capture the essence of shared vulnerability and trust, it falters, stumbling over a narrative that feels uneven and, at times, contrived because Hayes’ actions tread a fine line between determination and disregard for boundaries. The film’s attempt to address the intricacies of their age gap and the external pressures of fame and internet culture on their relationship and often leans into the sensational rather than the substantive, missing opportunities to explore these themes with the nuance it deserves.

The film’s overreliance on exposition makes it feel like I’ve watched internet fanfiction come to life rather than a fleshed-out cinematic story. This is no slight to fanfiction, which can offer insights into character and emotion, but in a film seeking to carve out space in the rom-com genre, the balance between fantasy and realism can be muddy if not careful. Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt’s script seems OK with that.

RELATED: ‘The Idea Of You’ Red Carpet Premiere Photos: Anne Hathaway & Nicholas Galitzine Dazzle At SXSW

My favorite aspect of the film is the relationship between Solene and her daughter Izzy as the chemistry between Hathaway and Rubin is palpable. They present a mother-daughter dynamic that stands as the film’s emotional core. Hathaway’s portrayal is nuanced and layered, offering a glimpse into the complexities of Solene’s character that is both compelling and relatable. The acknowledgment of the film’s unbalanced romance and its implications for Solene’s life choices, particularly concerning her daughter’s well-being, introduces a layer of depth that is the real backbone of The Idea Of You

However, the relationship between Solene and Hayes struggles under the weight of believability. Galitzine’s portrayal, while earnest, fails to match Hathaway’s depth, rendering their connection less convincing. This exploration feels somewhat superficial, overshadowed by a script more concerned with romantic idealization than the messier, more meaningful aspects of love and life.

In an era hungry for rom-coms that both entertain and enlighten, this film positions itself as a contender. However, its execution leaves it languishing in the realm of what could have been. Coupled with the length, and a saccharine resolution that undercuts its more serious undertones, The Idea of You renders it a fleeting pleasure rather than a lasting impact. Either way, it will no doubt find its audience, those yearning for escapism wrapped in the glow of star-crossed lovers against the backdrop of music and fame. Hathaway’s performance offers moments of genuine emotion and connection that hint at the film’s potential, which keeps things together long enough to be enjoyable.

Title: The Idea of You
Festival: SXSW (Closing Night)
Distributor: Amazon MGM Studios
Release date: May 2, 2024
Director: Michael Showalter
Screenwriter: Michael Showalter and Jennifer Westfeld
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Nicholas Galitzine, Ella Rubin, Annie Mumolo, Reid Scott, Perry Mattfeld, Jordan Aaron Hall, Mathilda Gianopoulos, Raymond Cham Jr., Jaiden Anthony, Viktor White, Dakota Adan
Rating: R
Running time: 1 hr 55 min

Content Source: deadline.com

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