Film Review: The Idea of You; The luminousness of Anne Hathaway elevates serviceable rom-com

If the premise of The Idea of You sounds like romanticised mentality of fanfiction – that being a romance centred around a 40-year-old single divorcee and the global boyband heartthrob who meet-cutes her and proceeds to pursue her to her bewilderment – it’s because it essentially is.

Based on Robinne Lee‘s novel of the same name, Michael Showalter‘s romantic comedy (of sorts) works with a premise that, as outlandish as it is, travels along with a telegraphed predictability that stars Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine don’t deserve.  Bless them and their scorching chemistry that they elevate Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt‘s script to a watchable level, but, despite their wattage, streaming is the most suitable platform for a film of this ilk to debut.

Hathaway’s Solène, who is freshly 40, shares a wonderfully close relationship with her teenage daughter (Ella Rubin), and is, seemingly, still sore from the fact that her husband (Reid Scott) left her for a much younger woman (Perry Mattfeld), is a little too “rom-com 101” written in that she doesn’t know her own evident sexual appeal and can’t seem to attract a regular man of her own age.  Thankfully, she snares the eye of Hayes Campbell (Galitzine), one of the more prominent members of boyband August Moon, at Coachella when she, mistaking his trailer for a public restroom, strikes up a harmless conversation, completely oblivious to his own popularity.

Hayes is particularly Harry Styles-coded – British, adorned in ink, a fan of wearing cardigans unironically – and that’s no mistake on the half of Showalter and Westfeldt as Lee has admitted that the character is very much influenced by the former One Direction sex symbol.  But, despite the reception to both him and his August Moon cohorts, he doesn’t appear interested in the hoard of fangirls he’s constantly swarmed by.  Instead, he’s taken with Solène’s grounded approach to her life, and to his, and the more she lightly rejects his obvious advances, the stronger he is drawn to her.

Though the script hits the beats you’d expect regarding their age difference and that Hayes’ usual seduction moves mean something different with Solène, Hathaway and Galitzine continually sell their romance beyond the archetypal narrative.  Selling Hathaway as an “everywoman”, however, isn’t the easiest purchase – not once do we believe that she would be so dismissed for her age by the catty 20-somethings the rest of the band hang around with – but The Idea of You at least aims to, once again, highlight the May-December romance temperament and that when it’s a woman who’s older, it’s met with far more criticism.

Amongst all the escapism of Solène and Hayes’ romance and an admittedly catchy Top 40-heavy soundtrack, there’s a very sweet story of two people just searching for connection and finding it in the unlikeliest of places.  The Idea of You never strays from the formula of the genre – sometimes to its own detriment –  but thanks predominantly to luminousness of Hathaway, it proves an enjoyable fling for romance fans and their own lush visions.


The Idea of You is now streaming on Prime Video.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.