MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 10, 2024: THE IDEA OF YOU

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If you can suspend your disbelief about the fact that anyone would wonder why a straight man in his 20s would find Anne Hathaway attractive, The Idea of You is a sweet, thoughtful romantic comedy about seizing your joy where you’re lucky enough to find it and ignoring the haters. And the film is undeniably Hathaway’s, thanks to her appealing performance as a 40-year-old divorced mom who’s scared to believe in her own happy ending.

Her character, Solène, has been single since her divorce from her charismatic but smarmy ex, Daniel (Reid Scott). Solène runs a chic art gallery in Southern California and is the proud mom of high schooler Izzy (Ella Rubin), whom she had quite young but never regretted. On the verge of her 40th birthday, Solène is drafted to take Izzy and some friends to the Coachella Music Festival at the last minute when Daniel has a work emergency. There she has a meet-cute with 24-year-old Hayes, Nicholas Galitzine, the lead singer of massively popular One Direction-esque boy band August Moon. Hays is quite taken with Solène’s down-to-earth reaction to his fame, not to mention her radiant smile.

Hayes pursues Solène, much to her chagrin: Initially, she can’t see past their age difference, and her experience with Daniel left her fragile and reluctant to trust men. But when she lets herself give in and enjoy being with this man, who finds her beautiful, smart, talented, and charming, she rediscovers who she is when she’s happy and in love. Of course, as we all know, the course of true love never did run smooth, and The Idea of You (which director Michael Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt adapted from Robinne Lee’s novel) throws several obstacles in Solène and Hayes’ path, especially in the form of internet trolls. Good thing this is a Hollywood romcom!

As such, it’s got great production values and enough aspirational sets and fashions to give Nancy Meyers’ films a run for their money. With all of the private jets, glam clothes, and gorgeous people involved, you might be tempted to dismiss The Idea of You as eye candy. But Hathaway keeps things grounded, making Solène believable as a devoted mom who thought her own days of romantic abandon were behind her. So don’t be surprised to find yourself being delighted to see Solène getting her groove back. — Betsy Bozdech

Team #MOTW’s comments:

Loren King There are many reasons why a formulaic May/December romance like The Idea of You might end up as nothing more than an eye roll of a cliche-ridden film. That it not only works but is surprisingly fresh and touching is due to the textured lead performance by Anne Hathaway who brings such an appealing mix of self-awareness and vulnerability to 40 year-old divorced mom and Los Angeles art gallery owner Solène that it feels revelatory. Read full review.

Nell Minow: Anne Hathaway and rising star Nicholas Galitzine bring star quality and sizzle to the story of two lonely people with trust issues who discover a home in one another. Does it make sense? Not really, but it does not have to. Pretty people in pretty settings becoming crazy about each other has always been one of the best reasons to go to the movies.

Sherin Nicole The Idea of You is a 50/50 rom-com that the lead actors elevate into a cozy weekend watch. Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Solène, a 40-year-old single mother, and Nicholas Galitzine’s Hayes Campbell, an endearing boy band frontman, pull you in. Their meet-cute is solid, and the pacing is steady as the pair navigate the highs and lows of their unexpected May-December relationship. Still, the penultimate scenes feel inevitable, lacking the ‘escalation of anticipation’ that leads to heart-fluttering conclusions. While the ending is optimistic, it sparks without catching fire, which may cause comparisons to our favorite romantic comedies. There are strong similarities to Notting Hill, another film that plays with the dynamics between a huge celebrity and a mundane purveyor of the arts. However, the earlier film serves up greater character depth and bigger swoons. Nonetheless, I’m not mad at The Idea of You; its depiction of society’s contempt for women over 40 who live passionately is a well-stated truth. This makes it a rom-com you can enjoy while curled up on the couch with your chosen movie-mate and a bowl of snacks on any given Sunday, Saturday, or Friday night.

Leslie Combemale How delightful that as a rom-com, The Idea of You can be both effervescent and meaningful. Although Hollywood would be hard-pressed to find a hotter 40 year old than Anne Hathaway for an older woman/younger man story, the script never shies away from demonstrating societal double standards and judgments, and how they can destroy a potentially great match. Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine have chemistry to burn, and have audiences on their side from the moment they meet. Entertaining and worthwhile entries in this genre are hard to find, and folks who love either or both stars should run to theaters and enjoy every minute of this “boy meets girl”.

Jennifer Merin THE IDEA OF YOU, starring Anne Hathaway as a rather demure and divorced 40-year-old art gallery owner and mother of a teen age daughter who, through various convenient plot twists, hooks up with a handsome mature-for-his-age and very confident 20-something fellow who happens to be the lead singer in the planet’s most popular boy band. The two are undeniably in sync, but there is discord because she’s concerned about their age difference and — even more so — because his celebrity exposes her to disruption of her quiet life, is the overture to very nasty attacks on the internet and symbolic clashes in her already problematic relationships with her daughter and with her ex, who is now remarried to a much younger women. Okay, THE IDEA OF YOU is somewhat formulaic and predictable. But this romdramcomedy scores primarily because of the notable harmony between Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine, who plays the rock star who rocks her character’s world. The film’s two themes — the ‘May to September’ romance and the ‘love in the limelight’ affair — are presented primarily from her point of view in a well balanced way that actually affects you and gives you something to think about. And, craft-wise, the film is full volume impressive.

Nikki Fowler: Anne Hathaway can do no wrong in ‘The Idea Of You.’ From her character’s sexually liberated Essex Hotel grown and sexy pop up romp, debilitating emotional breakdown over her husband’s infidelity and betrayal, to her viral mortified mom walk of shame at her daughter’s summer camp, Anne ticks all the boxes on this very real, rejuvenated art dealer slash Coachella mom scenario. ‘The Idea Of You’ while wrapped in a sugary boy band come up package of dance moves and predictable beats, turns the tables on something that’s still taboo, older women with younger adult men and it seems to still make some men mad. If you want to watch two glamorous, sexy, chemistry filled leads navigate real life awkward scenarios with everyone’s eyeballs raging with judgement, make sure to stream it.

Pam Grady: It’s a meet-cute in a trailer at Coachella for 24-year-old boy band singer Hayes (Nicholas Galitzine) and 40-year-old art gallery owner Soléne (Anne Hathaway) in Michael Showalter’s (The Big Sick, Spoiler Alert) romantic dramedy adapted from Robinne Lee’s bestseller. The age gap initially bothers but she soon falls under the Brit’s puppyish charm and into a tryst they try to keep discreet. But with paparazzi everywhere, exposure was bound to happen, gossip columns and social media tossing a bomb into their relationship. Far and away, the film’s best feature is the couple at its center, Galitzine and Hathaway as likeable people that share combustible chemistry. The film also scores points for the way it makes bare the toxicity of so much social media and of “fans” whose idolatry curdles into nasty, possessive obsession. Supporting players are underwritten, especially Soléne’s ex-husband Daniel (Reid Scott), who is reduced to a cartoon. The story barely skims the surface of the challenges facing a couple who not only have a big age gap but a chasm in terms of lifestyle. The movie is diverting, funny and sexy but it could have been something substantial. And it might have been something meta – I mean, if you’re going to have Harry Styles-like character at the center of your movie, why not cast Harry Styles?

Sandie Angulo Chen: The Idea of You is like How Stella Got Her Groove Back meets well-written One Direction fanfiction; in other words it’s the story of a middle-aged woman’s love affair with a younger man, who in this case happens to be an international boy-band singer. Based on Robinne Lee’s 2017 same-titled novel, the film is blessed with two outstanding leads — Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway and Red, White & Royal Blue star Nicholas Galitzine. After an unexpected meet-cute at Coachella, British pop star Hayes (Galitzine) woos single mother and art gallery owner Solène (Hathaway) into joining him on tour. Age-gap romances aren’t meant to be comfortable, so it’s a relief that director Michael Showalter and writer Jennifer Westfeldt don’t shy away from the public backlash and private consequences that the surprising relationship faces. Hathaway, of course, is so beautiful and young-looking that it’s hard to believe there would be such a fuss, except that, as one character says, people don’t like it when women (especially older women) are happy. A feminist and feel-good romance that’s better than expected

Liz Whittemore Nicholas Galitzine is an ace on-screen. His onstage persona as a member of the boyband August Moon is shockingly natural. The scenes where he lets loose with Hathaway prove his effortless star quality. As a 43-year-old mother, Anne Hathaway’s performance could not be more relatable and charming. She owns every second of screen time with unbridled vulnerability. The chemistry between Galitzine and Hathaway is undeniably organic. There is electricity in the honest dialogue. The soundtrack is meticulously curated, highlighting the timeless connection created by great music. It is a standout in an already magnetic film. The comparisons to the media circus around Taylor Swift and her personal life are unmissable. The relentless hounding and negativity online are palpable. The Idea of You is anything but a throwaway rom-com. It tackles issues distinctly specific to contented, strong women and how the world simply cannot accept their happiness or success, or, God forbid, both.

Cate Marquis Beautiful Ann Hathaway and hunky Brit Nicholas Galitzine star in a May-December romance, where a 40-year-old divorced mother, the owner of an art gallery who is escorting her teen-aged daughter to the Coachella Festival, accidentally meets a 25-year-old member of a world-famous boy band, and he instantly falls for her. It is an absurd premise, silly even, but then again this 40-year-old mom is Anne Hathaway, so how couldn’t he be knocked out. Plus, handsome Nicholas Galitzine’s pop-star is feeling kind of lost, uncertain about his present life, and looking for something beyond screaming fans. The Idea of You is a sneaky kind of film, a crafty romance that slowly takes us from something that seems preposterous to a more touching tale, as these two people with trust issues find they share more than it might appear, while the film explores the difficulties of such a relationship in the spotlight. As the story unfolds, the characters reveal themselves, until it doesn’t seem so strange after all.

FILM DETAILS:

Title: The Idea of You

Director: Michael Showalter

Release Date: May 3, 2024

Running Time:

Language: English

Screenwriter: Jennifer Westfeldt, Michael Showalter, Robinne Lee (novel)

Distribution Company: Amazon

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Betsy Bozdech, Leslie Combemale, Nikki Fowler, Pam Grady, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sherin Nicole, Liz Whittemore

Previous #MOTW Selections

Other Movies Opening This Week

Edited by Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).