It’s Easy to Forget ‘The Idea of You’

“The Idea of You” follows a romance between a popstar and the mother of one of his fans.

“The Idea of You” is an R-rated romcom that echoes online fanfiction.

Based on the eponymous novel by Robinne Lee, “The Idea of You” follows a budding romance between a young popstar and the mother of one of his fans.

Divorced mother Solène inadvertently sparks an affair with pop-music superstar Hayes Campbell after walking into his trailer before a performance. Being 16 years his senior, Solène navigates the secrecy of their intimacy and decadent perks associated with dating a boy band singer.

The closer Solène and Hayes grow, the more their outside relationships begin to strain. As paparazzi pressure closes in, the 40- and 24-year-old discover what they value about themselves and one another.

Directed by Michael Showalter, “The Idea of You” lacks enthusiasm for its scandalous premise and ignores discussion of May-December, age-gap relationships. Showalter (“The Big Sick,” “The Dropout”) directs in a middle-of-the-road manner that refuses to lean into nuance or style.

The film blatantly lacks self-awareness. A depressed single mother falling in love with a successful man-child is an overplayed premise ripped straight from online recesses and Colleen Hoover novels. 

Celebrity lifestyles filled with private jets and steamy hotels are lauded while the core relationship is uncritically romanticized. The film can’t help but exude an atmosphere of faux glamor to appeal to the wealthy, white and lovesick.

The lack of charisma in story and style is somewhat reclaimed by its two leads. Anne Hathaway as Soléne wholeheartedly sells cliche dialogue and circumstance. Hathaway (“Les Misérables,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) steals the screen with a level of wit and gloom frankly unwarranted. Regardless of context, Hathaway gives her all to a role she clearly had fun with.

Nicholas Galitzine as Hayes surprisingly endears with a slow-burn performance. Galitzine (“Bottoms,” “Red, White & Royal Blue”) first plays the popstar rather arrogantly only to unfurl his sensitivity as the film progresses.

The duo’s chemistry is rather tepid given the R-rating, but the biggest shortcoming is the characters’ writing. Hayes is a celebrity with no definable traits and Soléne exudes apathy in spite of a successful career and supportive family. 

Soléne is finding herself in middle age, while Hayes’ whirlwind youth makes maturity difficult to maintain. Both search for personal identity, but their age-gap relationship implies those journeys aren’t equivocal.

“The Idea of You” wastes both the chance to tell a self-reflective narrative and the opportunity to explore realistic or stylized intimacy. The film drags at nearly two hours and its sporadic pop-song-edits reek of an appeal to TikTok demographics.

For those invested in BookTok adaptations, they might find simple enjoyment. For others, the idea of a better romcom would be more serviceable.

“The Idea of You,” rated R, is available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Featured image courtesy of Prime Video

Brendan Parr

Brendan Parr