‘The Idea of You’ dreams up a romance built around very familiar ideas

‘The Idea of You’ dreams up a romance built around very familiar ideas
  • PublishedMay 3, 2024

If “Notting Hill” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” had a baby, it would look something like “The Idea of You,” a May-August romantic pairing of Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine. Nicely played by the leads, this tale of a 40-year-old woman swept off her feet by a 20-something boy-band star amounts to playing the genre’s hits while following all the same old steps.

Destined for Amazon, it’s a competent date-night or gals’-night movie for those who don’t want to leave the house – Chardonnay optional, but recommended – which makes practical sense, landing as it does in a middle ground that has struggled at the box office.

Cheated on and left by her husband, Soléne (Hathaway) is a successful art-gallery owner who gets roped at the last-minute into squiring her teenage daughter and the kid’s friends to Coachella, where her ex has purchased a meet-and-greet experience with the members of August Moon, whose following might lean more toward the tween crowd.

A reluctant attendee, Soléne has the ultimate meet-cute moment with band member Hayes (Galitzine, of “Mary & George” and “Red, White & Royal Blue” renown), stumbling into his trailer thinking it’s the restroom.

After some awkward banter and obvious chemistry – which with the benefit of hindsight is about as good as the movie gets – Hayes shows up unexpectedly (by her, that is) at Soléne’s gallery, telling her shyly, “I feel like I don’t meet people like you very often.”

Nicholas Galitzine (center) plays a boy-band star in "The Idea of You."

Nicholas Galitzine (center) plays a boy-band star in “The Idea of You.” Alisha Wetherill/Courtesy Prime

For a pop star, he’s an endearingly sensitive soul, which doesn’t do much to quell her reticence, due both to their age gap and his fame.

Romance and complications ensue, with writer-director Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick” and “Spoiler Alert,” sharing script credit with Jennifer Westfeldt) adapting Robinne Lee’s novel in part by relying on the customary montages to handle some of the heavy lifting. If only the garnishes were a little less tired, including the prying paparazzi and Reid Scott as Soléne’s no-right-to-be-bent-out-of-shape ex.

All that really leaves, then, is the interplay between Hathaway and Galitzine, with the latter (starring in his second Amazon movie in a year’s time about a romance complicated by fame) performing double duty on the songs. The problem is however well they might work in terms of rooting for them as a couple, it’s hard to avoid the very real issue that the world he inhabits and indeed people in general can be pretty lousy.

“The Idea of You” will likely be most satisfying for those who choose not to sweat the details, enjoying the scenery and fantasy wrapped up in it. Think of it as one of those movies that really reinforces the adage there are no new ideas, just fresh versions of old ones set to different beats.


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