Uncategorized ‘The Idea Of You’: A Rom-Com Masterpiece That Transcends Genres

‘The Idea Of You’: A Rom-Com Masterpiece That Transcends Genres

The Idea Of You's escapism is less sensual than societal, a fantasy of being able to partake in a cultural offering that isn't for you anymore.

Spoilers ahead!

The crowned queen of Romantic Comedy and the stellar protagonist of Red, White and Royal Blue gives us a romantic film that serves as a breath of fresh air, after a series of dull and uninspiring fuzzy narratives. Though not in the way you might think after reading the film’s logline, The Idea of You is a fantasy. Its escapism is less sensual than societal, a fantasy of being able to partake in a cultural offering that isn’t for you anymore.

Michael Showalter directs it with uninspired competence. The idea of you caters to the audience who is looking for a swoon-worthy romance that does not forget to add a realistic touch and vulnerability to its characters. Let’s dive deeper into the intricacies of love, lust, vulnerability and societal shunning that the film encompasses.

Plot of the The Idea Of You

Solène Marchand, a divorced art gallery owner in Los Angeles, is planning a solo camping trip for her upcoming fortieth birthday. However, when her ex-husband Daniel has to leave on a work trip, she agrees to join him and their daughter Izzy at Coachella instead. Daniel has set up a meeting with the boy band August Moon for Solène. While waiting in the VIP area, Solène mistakenly enters Hayes Campbell’s trailer. They flirt, despite the age difference. Hayes unexpectedly dedicates a song to Solène during their performance. 

A still from The Idea Of You
Source: IMDb

Solène becomes disappointed with the young men she meets at her birthday party. Hayes unexpectedly visits her gallery and buys all the art pieces. They then have a meaningful conversation about life and art at a friend’s warehouse studio. During lunch at Solène’s house, she opens up about her insecurities from her past marriage while Hayes talks about his ambitions as a musician. They share a kiss, but Solène rejects his advances. Hayes leaves his watch behind and later texts her to meet him in New York City. Solène decides to join him and they end up having sex at his hotel. Hayes persuades her to accompany him on his band’s tour in Europe.

Solène chooses to keep their relationship a secret from her daughter and others. She feels self-conscious about her age compared to other women in the band while on vacation in the south of France. She learns that Hayes may have pursued relationships with older women in the past and feels misled by his dedication of a song to her.

Feeling disillusioned, she abruptly leaves for Los Angeles. When Daniel questions her relationship with Hayes, she denies any involvement with him. After paparazzi photos of Solène’s relationship with Hayes are posted online, she becomes the target of unwanted attention. Despite initially being angry at her mother for lying, Izzy eventually forgives Solène. Solène and Hayes rekindle their relationship at a recording studio and start dating publicly. To escape the scrutiny, Solène and her family decide to delete their social media accounts.

Daniel talks to Solène about how their relationship is impacting Izzy, who is struggling at school because of it. After Hayes comes back from a trip, Solène breaks up with him again. However, he suggests getting back together in five years when Izzy is done with school. Once more, he gives her his watch.

When Hayes performs on The Graham Norton Show five years later, Solène witnesses it and he mentions that he has plans to visit Los Angeles. When he gets back to the gallery, they have a heartfelt reunion.

The age gap romance

It’s a rom-com that recognises the significance of sex and how our sexual interactions shape relationships, though it’s not quite as messy or as explicit as the book, according to fans. Although the age difference between Hayes and Solène has been somewhat reduced from the book—Hayes is now 24 instead of 20—it remains a major source of tension and anxiety in the narrative, making Solène acutely conscious of how people perceive her, both in her immediate circle and ultimately, in the public at large. 

A still from The Idea Of You
Source: IMDb

The plot may seem typical, but the tension between Hayes and Solène, resulting from their different lifestyles and age gap, is effectively conveyed through silent communication. The film’s electrifying chemistry between the leads can still be felt even without sound. The film’s soundtrack, a mix of classic rock and original songs, adds to the experience. While it’s a shame that The Idea of You won’t have a traditional theatrical release, experiencing the audience’s reactions to the film is a thrilling experience. 

The Idea of You elicits laughter and excitement from viewers, especially during intense moments. The couple is hesitant but also filled with mutual lust and a strong connection. Showalter explores their desires through scenes depicting what they lack in their lives. Hayes tries to ignore the overwhelming energy of fans, while Solène tries to avoid the dullness of men her age who have been through a divorce. He wants stability and maturity, while she craves the adventurous spirit she missed out on as a young mother who married early. Their desires clash, but can they find a balance?

Nicholas’s character is a bit shallow but we have Hathaway’s effortless charm

While Galitzine may not have the same level of charisma as a typical pop prince on stage in The Idea of You, he is dedicated to adding depth to his character in private moments. However, he often encounters problems with the film’s script and editing. Despite rarely seeing the deeper, non-celebrity side of the character, Solène is drawn to him because of his suppressed excitement. 

Their dynamic is captivating because of the way Solène reacts to his longing stares, showing her desire to be seen and adored. Despite the rushed and formulaic plot elements, Anne Hathaway’s performance in the film is both thrilling and heartbreaking. She effectively portrays her character’s insecurities and fear of love through impulsive and self-destructive decisions, making the character feel complex and real. Hathaway brings life to the movie, even when it feels like it is moving too quickly through familiar romantic comedy tropes.

Hathaway’s glamorous appearance makes it unsurprising that a young heartthrob would be attracted to an older, unfamous woman. The film briefly explores issues of misogyny and ageism but focuses more on fantasy. The script, by Showalter and Westfeldt, is better than expected for a romantic comedy but lacks depth. The main characters feel too idealised and the focus is too narrow, resembling a dream.

The convergence of imagination and the real 

Showalter’s lack of visual flair as a filmmaker benefits the initial scenes in the film, as the noncommittal framing and colour choices create a neutral and flat look at the character’s daily routine before the main characters meet. Once Solène gives in to temptation and indulges in the excitement of youth, she becomes immersed in Hayes’ lifestyle. Cinematographer Jim Frohna creates a warm and intimate atmosphere, capturing their first moments together with enthusiasm and passion.

A still from The Idea Of You
Source: IMDb

Despite their steamy encounters, they also find joy and laughter in each other’s company away from prying eyes. When reality hits Solène hard with invasive celebrity gossip and online criticism, it significantly affects her mental state. However, the impact of their relationship on Izzy plays a key role in the film’s direction. By ageing Izzy to 16 and giving her more self-awareness, she becomes a more integral part of the story with her thoughts and conflicting views. The film uses her to comment on gender issues, similar to how Barbie used a teenage character for the same purpose, but the seriousness of her input fluctuates throughout the film.

Remarkable chemistry and The Idea Of You

In “The Idea of You,” the characters do not dismiss art as pretentious, unlike many mainstream romance films. Hayes and Solène initially make fun of interpretive art but eventually find meaning and connection in it. Solène appreciates art and Hayes learns to take it seriously as well. Despite Hayes’ insecurities about his art, Solène takes him seriously and appreciates the music he produces, which ranges from soulful acoustic solos to mainstream chart-toppers. 

A still from The Idea Of You
Source: IMDb

The tension between Hayes and Solène, caused by their different lifestyles and age gap, is effectively shown through silent looks in the film. Even without sound, viewers can still feel the strong connection between the two characters, although they would miss out on the movie’s catchy soundtrack featuring classic rock and August Moon. In this relationship, both individuals may have unrealistic expectations of each other, as seen in many romantic comedies.

However, The Idea of You also delves deeper into the personal challenges faced by the couple, particularly due to one partner’s fame. While the movie challenges typical romantic comedy tropes and even deconstructs them, it still embraces the genre wholeheartedly. Overall, The Idea of You manages to balance traditional romantic comedy elements with a more introspective and nuanced portrayal of the couple’s dynamics.

It is a performance that combines elements of romantic comedy with more intense drama, showcasing the actress’s talent. She brings depth to the genre, turning what could be seen as superficial into something emotionally impactful.

The character she portrays grapples with the idea of starting anew, ultimately finding redemption. Both the actress and the character she plays receive the happy ending they deserve, making it a satisfying cinematic experience.

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