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Review: ‘The Idea of You’ Has a Great Premise But Gets Muddled in Romantic Tropes

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Prime Video’s latest romantic flick with Anne Hathaway could have been different but falls into the trope trap instead. Here’s our review of The Idea of You.

It’s insane that Anne Hathaway is 41 years old. First off, she doesn’t look like it, and secondly, she will always be Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genovia to this ageing millennial. It took a little suspension of disbelief for me when watching this movie because not only was she playing a nearly-middle-aged woman but she also has a teenage daughter. In the end, that wasn’t bothersome at all. In fact, Pime Video’s The Idea of You has a great premise that sets the stage for a great story, and though it attempts to do something different, it unfortunately falls into the typical tropes of similar romantic films. 

[Hero image: Prime Video]

The Idea of You review: Full of potential—and your typical romantic plot

Notting Hill-esque 

Image credit: Prime Video

Solène Marchand (Hathaway) is a single mother who lives a successful and quiet life. She just turned 40 and spends her nights burying her nose in a book and isn’t interested in dating despite her friends trying to push her because the dating pool is, to put it succinctly, abysmal. On a spur-of-a-moment trip to Coachella with her daughter, she has a meet-cute with Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), the 24-year-old member of a boyband her daughter used to adore. Eventually, the two of them strike up a passionate romance that eventually develops into something deeper.

There are plenty of romantic stories similar to this: normal person meets superstar person, they fall in love, and they now have to deal with the harsh reality of having a relationship in the spotlight. We’ve seen it in the likes of Notting Hill and America’s Sweethearts (coincidentally, Julia Roberts plays the superstar and the “normie” in each, respectively). But The Idea of You has one thing these other films don’t: a middle-aged woman falling for a young man.

What could have been

Image credit: Prime Video

The movie does make use of this plot point a little bit, showing just how unnecessarily cruel people can be to a woman in this situation compared to a man. Leo having a cut-off age of 25 years for his girlfriends is hilarious; Solène, in this film, is labelled a cougar, which sadly reflects true life. The movie delves a little into the toxicity Solène and her daughter have to face because of her relationship with Hayes. As a character in the movie bluntly puts it, “People hate happy women.”

But here’s the thing: it only makes use of this plot point a little bit when it should have been the main focus of the entire film. That’s what sets it apart. Instead, the film delves into it towards the end. Sadly, the majority of the movie is just your run-of-the-mill romantic story: meet-cute, denial of desires, the eventual giving in and happiness, and then trouble. Even the writing is typical: when Hayes is trying to convince Solène to pursue their relationship and asks why she’s hesitant, she responds with “Because you’re you and I’m me.” Later on, she even manages to say the world-famous “It’s not you, it’s me” line. 

By the power of Hathaway

Image credit: Prime Video

The film also tries to be somewhat edgy. It gets steamy at times—and granted, the chemistry between Hathaway and Galitzine is palpable—and the film tries to amp up the eroticism but it just felt out of place. It was as if it didn’t know what tone to go for, going from fun and romantic in one scene then immediately becoming titillating and steamy in the next. 

Anne Hathaway, however, can do no wrong, and even her co-star Nicholas Galtizine does a terrific job. Both were able to do their best with subpar writing, a predictable plot, and two-dimensional characters but even their efforts weren’t enough to give the film depth. 

Tropey but entertaining

review the idea of you
Image credit: Prime Video

There were moments during the film where I caught a glimpse of what it could have been. Unlike other actors who are obviously just there for the paycheck, Hathaway and Galtizine bring their A-Game. The plot shines briefly, making me think that isn’t your typical cheesy romantic movie—until I realised that there are only about 30 minutes left of the film. The Idea of You could have been a one-of-a-kind romantic movie. Sadly, it’s just tropey and forgettable but still somewhat entertaining for a one-time watch. 

The Idea of You is streaming on Prime Video on May 2

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok

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