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“The Idea of You” is Perfect on Camera but Will Make You Cringe in Real Life

The age-gap romance flick, based on the book of the same name is everything straight out of a fairytale, but a love between a 24-year-old popstar and a 40-year-old mother doesn’t come without its challenges.
May 17, 2024
11:42 am
The Idea of You
The Idea of You

When a sizzling new romance film comes to town, everyone’s excited about it because who doesn’t love love? Before “The Idea of You” premiered, first at the SXSW Festival, then on Prime Video, it garnered controversy because those who read the book of the same name by Robinne Lee felt it was a One Direction/Harry Styles fan fiction.


Admittedly, after watching the film, it’s never beating those allegations because the fictional boy band in the film – August Moon – has a lot of striking similarities with the global sensation, One Direction, and they had teenage girls all over the world in a chokehold.


The August Moon love drives the narrative of the film. “The Idea of You” tells the story of how a single mother, Solene (Anne Hathaway), takes her daughter Izzy to Coachella and coincidentally runs into Hayes (Nicholas Galitzine), the lead singer of August Moon in the ‘bathroom.’ He instantly falls in love with her and dedicates a song to her during the band’s performance.


The Idea of You
The Idea of You

Of course, Solene assumes she will never see him again but, like magic, he appears at her art gallery in Silver Lake. They bond over life, art, and sandwiches, and Solene realizes that her heart flutters for the August Moon heartthrob.


Thematically, “The Idea of You” spotlights age-gap romances, the ones where the woman is the older one in the relationship. It unashamedly points a finger at the hypocrisy of society for shaming women who date younger men. Women in these relationships are forced to self-consciously care about how people perceive them. Solene memorably asks Hayes before they hard launch their relationship, “What would people say?”


Of course, he tells her not to care about the opinion of others, but it’s difficult to do so when you’re the one going to face the judgmental wrath of, well, people. Why are they judgmental? Solene’s best friend Tracy (Annie Mumolo) provides an accurate answer: “People hate happy women.” No one bats an eyelash when a man dates a woman young enough to be his daughter; it’s considered “normal.”


The Idea of You
The Idea of You

The hypocrisy of society is further highlighted by the media’s reaction to Solene and Hayes’ relationship. Without knowing the truth (Hayes pursued Solene), they go on a smear campaign, calling Solene derogatory names like cougar, pedophile, and a bad mother. The tabloid mess not only strains the couple’s relationship but also affects Izzy, who is taunted at school for her mother’s choices. Again, this never would have happened if Solene was a man.


Despite the naysayers, the couple’s undying love still blossoms, which is the other theme that “The Idea of You” strongly emphasizes. From the undeniable chemistry between Hayes and Solene, it’s easy to tell they are madly in love with each other, and love transcends boundaries, even the ones created by society. Had it not been for logic, Hayes and Solene may have been together eventually, but the media hit, and its effect on Izzy, forces them to finally break up.


Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine, who play Solene and Hayes respectively, couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for their roles. Not only are they both insanely attractive, but their chemistry is undeniable. When their characters are in a room together, it’s like the world stops: the longing gazes, the slow touches, and the passionate kisses are just too good, and it’s hard to believe that they’re doing nothing more than acting.


Hathaway is no stranger to the romantic film scene, and she brings her wealth of experience into her portrayal of Solene, an accomplished, recently divorced art curator who never thought she would fall madly in love with the lead singer of a band her daughter adored when she was younger.


The Idea of You
The Idea of You

Galitzine is a relatively new actor who has been nicknamed the “Chemistry god” because be it man, woman, lamp, or chair, he’s going to pull off a romantic performance. He adds a laid-back, British bad-boy swagger to the character of Hayes; he also emotes perfectly, something that male actors struggle to do sometimes. When he’s in love, you’ll know; when he’s crying, you’ll see the tears; when he’s happy, his face lights up on screen, and he’s just a delight to watch.


“The Idea of You” aside, one thing about Galitzine’s performances is that he’s proven to be a very versatile actor. Which role hasn’t he played and executed perfectly? Gay Prince (“Red, White & Royal Blue), dumb jock (“Bottoms”), Fairytale Prince (“Cinderella”), Military heartthrob (“Purple Hearts”), and the list goes on. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him score a nomination from the Academy Awards one day.


“The Idea of You” excels in its cinematography, camera placements, and original soundtrack. It turned the fictional boy band, August Moon, into a reality by curating original, catchy pop songs, sung by Galitzine himself (he’s not just an actor, but also a singer!) and the other members of August Moon. Each song perfectly captures the beautiful, chaotic, and gut-wrenching moments in the film, and it’s oh-so-perfect. The soundtrack is now available on streaming platforms worldwide.


“The Idea of You” is a great watch for the book girlies, the romantics, and the skeptics who just want to push the One Direction/Harry Styles fan fiction agenda. It also has replay value, and that’s saying something because it’s not often you see a romance film in 2024 tagged as “rewatchable.”


The biggest lesson “The Idea of You” pedals? Say a big FU to society.


Release Date: May 2, 2024

Runtime: 1 hour and 56 minutes

Streaming Service: Prime Video

Director: Michael Showalter

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Nicholas Galitzine, Ella Rubin, Annie Mumolo, Reid Scott, and Perry Mattfeld

TNR Scorecard:


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