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The Idea Of You review: Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine's chemistry is off the charts

Spoilers below for The Idea of You!

Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
May 2, 2024
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The romcom is back – and this time, it's for the 40-something woman who is realizing that life isn't over just because you've hit a certain age. That's the premise for Anne Hathaway's new film The Idea Of You, out on Prime on May 2, a film which puts the focus on female pleasure – and the myriad ways society still tries to shame women for having it and wanting it. 

Based on Robinne Lee's pandemic success novel of the same name, The Idea Of You follows art gallery owner Solene Marchand (Anne Hathaway) as she falls in love with 24-year-old international pop star Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), comes to terms with the implications of their relationship, and shows the at-times devastating decisions that women have to make because we can't always have it all. 

Solene is a divorced mom-of-one whose ex-husband Daniel -- now dating a much younger woman -- is taking their daughter Izzy to Coachella with VIP passes and meet-and-greet access to August Moon, a once-cool boy band who are now "so seventh grade". But we quickly learn that Daniel is a flake and last minute he returns Izzy and her friends to Solene, asking if she can take them to the California music festival because he had a sudden unexpected work trip to Houston. 

Dad of the year, Daniel is not. 

Solene, knowing she can't say no and upset her daughter, says yes – even though she is incredibly out of place at the festival, and mistaken several times for a "Moonhead", a fan of the band, and a knowing wink to the older women who often make up large percentages of boy band fandoms in real life. 

Ella Rubin and Anne Hathaway star as mom and daughter in The Idea of You© Amazon
Ella Rubin and Anne Hathaway star as mom and daughter in The Idea of You

The Idea Of You doesn't skimp on chemistry

It's during her escape from one such fan that she first meets Hayes, a tattooed Harry Styles-esque singer. Any romcom rises and falls on the strength of the chemistry between the two lead characters, and the one department The Idea Of You doesn't fail in is chemistry. 

Anne and Nick's connection was clear from the trailer – which broke streaming records – and it remains palpable throughout the almost two-hour run time, from that first meeting in a trailer bathroom to the incredibly sexy first kiss at Solene's house, to the final scene, which – spoiler alert – is very different to the book. 

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You© Amazon
Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You

Nicholas (Mary & George; Red, White and Royal Blue) plays the seen-it-all twenty-something with a fearlessness that Solene easily falls for. He imbues Hayes with a maturity that allows us to believe why Solene would trust his confidence that sees her through the first whirlwind months of their romance, and takes on the script's quips (including one about Scunthorpe that made me cackle) with ease, showing off his comedy chops. 

If you have read the novel, temper expectations that the film will be just as spicy, hinting only at just enough to ensure there were audible gasps and titters among the audience of mostly women at my screening, but never enough to warrant a NC-17 rating (which it would have received if it had been a direct book-to-movie adaptation).

The Idea of You stars Anne Hathaway© Amazon
The Idea of You stars Anne Hathaway

Regardless of the lack of spice, the film does a wonderful job of centring Solene's gaze and pleasure.

There is a scene in a hotel room where Hayes channels all of his 24-year-old energy to perform a spontaneous dance to 'Dance Hall Days' by Wang Chung that gets Solene letting loose in a moment of freedom, and these moments bring a fizzy anticipation to the movie that allow the audience to truly understand the joy missing from her life for all these years, and how Hayes is making a difference. 

There were cries from skeptics of "Anne doesn't look 40" when she was cast, a perfect reminder that women who are 40 actually do look like Anne, who is 41. Although her portrayal of a woman who hasn't yet learned to stand up for herself is frustrating at times, you also intimately understand that after becoming a mom at such a young age, she never learned how to live for herself and not others. 

August Moon are fictional but the songs are real

The film's second biggest success is the music: How are we meant to believe August Moon are the biggest boyband on the planet if the songs aren't earworms that dig deep into your soul?  

Producer Cathy Schulman made the best decision of her career bringing in Savan Kotecha, of One Direction fame, to create seven original bubblegum pop tracks, all performed by Nicholas (the other four boyband members are professional dancers).

Dance Before We Walk by August Moon - Official Lyric Video | The Idea of You | Prime Video

Three are performed almost in full across the film, and I dare you not dance in your seat as August Moon do their best prancing and prowling around the stage, while the lead single 'Dance Before We Walk' plays throughout the film in various iterations, and the acoustic 'Go Rogue' comes towards the end in a surprising twist. 

August Moon, the fictional boyband from The Idea of You© Amazon
August Moon, the fictional boyband from The Idea of You

The Idea of You fails at its climax

The Idea Of You fails in its ending, however. The break up is brutal – two people realizing love isn't enough and that public scrutiny and cruel words are not, and should not, be easy to brush off – while Solene's request that Hayes lead a big and full life, suggesting that at 24 he will move on easily, recalls her lingering fear that this was never entirely real for him. 

And so the film ends as the book does… until we get a "five years later" title card that takes us forward in time to discover that Solene maybe didn't really learn all that much from Hayes after all. 

All good romcoms have a happy ever after, and so it is no surprise Showlater and screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt flipped the book's ending for the big screen. However Solene, rather than appearing to have gone out to live her life with a new found delight, is spending her evenings lying on the sofa by herself, a life which looks very similar to the one she had before Hayes, flipping through the channels and stumbling upon her former lover, now a solo star singing on The Graham Norton Show (and sporting a, frankly, very ugly beard). 

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine as Solene Marchand and Hayes Campbell in The Idea of You© Amazon
Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine as Solene Marchand and Hayes Campbell in The Idea of You

I would bet good money on you being able to guess what happens next, but this portrayal of Solene's life in the future has stuck with me and only made me angrier the more I consider it; it is not only antithetical to the thesis of the movie, but a wasted opportunity to drive home the message that women who are not married, for whatever reason, can and do live big and full lives every day without significant others. 

In fact, the film ending with Hayes' departure from Solene's home after their split, and her tearful yet amused laugh as she contemplates the absurdity of what she had been through over the past year, would have been a better happy ever after for Solene than what we got.

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