A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Anne Hathaway is a delight in this enjoyable romcom. Her comic timing is as impeccable as always as 40-year-old mum Solène, still reeling from the discovery that her sleazy husband Dan (Reid Scott) was having an affair. Now divorced, Solène has thrown everything she has into raising their daughter Izzy (Ella Rubin) and running her boutique art gallery in Los Angeles. On the surface, at least, she seems successful and happy. Deep down, however, Solène knows that there’s something missing from her life.


And then, unexpectedly, she finds it – at the Coachella music festival, of all places. Reluctantly chaperoning Izzy and her teenage friends to a meet-and-greet with their favourite boy band, Solène wanders into the trailer belonging to Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine). She’s just looking for a bathroom; instead she finds an amused 24-year-old heartthrob, best-known as part of the wildly successful band August Moon. Despite their 16-year age difference, the two instantly hit it off.

Hayes, too, is feeling lost, despite his extraordinary success and the women who throw themselves at him non-stop. He feels trapped by his career path, yearning to be free. The fact that Solène isn’t starstruck by him is appealing. After a few coy meet-ups, Hayes offers Solène a place by his side on August Moon’s upcoming tour of Europe. At first reluctant, Solène eventually accepts and soon, the two are head-over-heels for each other.

However, is this love or just animal attraction? Is Solène simply having a mid-life crisis? Is Hayes, as social media and the tabloids suggest, simply obsessed with dating ‘cougars’? How will their actions impact Izzy back home? And, as news of their relationship spreads and the paparazzi start their stalking, will the world ever leave them alone to find out?

Fans of Robinne Lee’s original novel will know that it doesn’t skimp on the sex; Solène and Hayes enjoy page after page of sauciness. The film is tame in comparison – it’s rated 15, not 18 – but it pays homage to the novel with a smattering of mildly spicy moments to get pulses racing.

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And yet, this on-and-off romance is eye-rollingly familiar. Every beat of Solène and Hayes’s relationship could be plotted on a graph; nothing is new. That’s not to say Hathaway isn’t her usual magnetic self, and Galitzine builds confidently upon the cheeky charisma he displayed in his previous romcom Red, White and Royal Blue. Their chemistry sizzles, just as it is supposed to.

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in an embrace, about to kiss.
Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway as Solène and Hayes in The Idea of You. Prime Video

But there isn’t one surprise here. Each plot twist is telegraphed with groan-worthy obviousness. Example: Solène mentions that she really loves a certain painting; guess what millionaire Hayes buys her in response?

Most disappointingly, the age gap itself feels superfluous. It’s not often we see an older woman with a younger man in a movie, particularly when the reverse is so common it isn’t even remarked upon. Reversing the genders on this trope should have led to some thought-provoking insights on societal double-standards.

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While Hathaway does get the odd moment to complain about this unjustness, it all feels too slight. Scenes in which she feels inferior to the younger groupies on the band’s tour reek of Mean Girls-style artificiality. The film’s final act foregoes any real introspection by building up to a twee cop-out... something the book, at least, had the courage to avoid.

Still, the charm of the two leads go a long way towards making The Idea Of You an irresistibly playful and entertaining experience, regardless of the film’s failed deeper messaging. Oh, and if you want more, check out August Moon: the half-fake band really have released an album to accompany the movie.

The Idea of You comes to Prime Video on Thursday 2nd May.


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