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Cheesy fan-fiction actually can make great cinema, and ‘The Idea of You’ is proof of that

Asst. C&C Editor Stella Powers was hesitant about "The Idea of You," but was pleasantly surprised by the film.
Asst. C&C Editor Stella Powers was hesitant about "The Idea of You," but was pleasantly surprised by the film.

On May 2, “The Idea of You,” a romance film based on the book by Robinne Lee, made its streaming debut on Amazon Prime.

I was hesitant going into this film, but I’ll watch almost anything for Anne Hathaway. She can do no wrong. Plus, my Letterboxd mutuals had good things to say, so it couldn’t be that bad, right?

My hesitations stemmed from a few places — for starters, the plot sounded like it came right out of a One Direction x reader Wattpad fan fiction, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea. It also seemed annoyingly heterosexual, and I’m not super fond of age gap relationship tropes.

Despite my uncertainties, I opened Amazon Prime on my laptop and pressed play. From the beginning, I was hooked. Hathaway’s character of Solène Marchand was immediately compelling, and the relationship dynamic between her, her daughter and ex-husband was painful yet captivating to watch.

The film starts with Solène’s ex-husband, played by Reid Scott, informing her that he can no longer take their daughter to Coachella due to a business trip. He asks if she can take her instead, saying that everything is paid for, including a meet-and-greet with their daughter’s favorite band from seventh grade, August Moon.

She agrees, taking her daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin), and her friends to the music festival, where her life changes forever. Their passes were VIP, which included private bathrooms on top of the meet-and-greet. On her way to the bathroom, Solène accidentally enters the wrong trailer, which ends up belonging to August Moon lead singer Hayes Campbell, played by Nicholas Galitzine.

Hayes and Solène immediately hit it off, but she brushes off their connection at first. She is a 40-year-old single mom who works at an art gallery, and he is a 24-year-old pop star. However, Hayes is persistent, continuing to flirt with her and even dedicate a song to her during his Coachella set.

After Coachella, Hayes shows up to Solène’s gallery, wanting to buy some art to use as decoration. The relationship only progresses from there, with the two getting dinner and even traveling together.

The film is filled with many highs and lows for the pair, but it is executed so beautifully that the audience feels for them every step of the way. The relationship isn’t glorified — instead, “The Idea of You” shows the difficulties of maintaining a personal life and dating as a celebrity.

It’s almost painfully realistic in a way — obviously, going to Coachella and falling in love with the lead singer from a famous boy band isn’t exactly the most lifelike experience, but the way the relationship is approached can be difficult to watch at times. The two face brutal consequences, both from their loved ones and the press, and are met with horrible, degrading headlines and paparazzi. They lose any and all privacy they had, putting a toll on the relationship between Solène and her family.

The film is filled with both triumphs and heartbreak, and director Michael Showalter managed to take a plot that seemed painfully cheesy and turn it into a cinematic masterpiece. Obviously, there are a few cringe-worthy moments. 

With a plot like this, they are almost impossible to avoid. But the writing, acting and cinematography absolutely make up for it. “The Idea of You” is such an emotion-heavy film, and it’s almost impossible to look away.

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Rating: 8/10