Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Familiar Tropes

It’s common knowledge that many films follow the cliché of an American and British romantic couple who live abroad. Their socioeconomic origins are vastly dissimilar; one of them is a business entrepreneur who has virtual challenges but finds contentment in the company of friends and family. They do, however, also endure persistent feelings of loneliness and a lack of purpose in life. One is an international celebrity. Millions of people always look up to them, but they also carry a hollow sense of fame and a yearning for a real relationship. Nonetheless, there is a physical pull and something special about them both.

The majority of the stories also consistently rely on frequently fabricated circumstances that compel them to live regular lives. The features that surround it are highly intriguing since they intensify a conflict between individual desires and societal castes. A painting also makes a meaningful present that implies either an established friendship or a developing emotional bond. Predatory paparazzi indicate that even a brief relationship may be disrupted and complicated by the fame that can accompany it.

Undeniably, The Idea of You shares many narrative similarities with the romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral. The British romantic comedy-drama follows a commitment-phobic man, who finds himself attending five weddings in a year but falling in love along the way. Directed by Mike Newell, the film explores the complexities of love and commitment, friendship and community, and is a social commentary in criticizing class differences and societal expectations surrounding relationships and marriage. On the other hand, The Idea of You may take inspiration from the film in its overall structure focusing on an unlikely love story. However, the film also seems to add a modern touch with celebrity elements to the potential for exploring societal changes in relationships.

Anne Hathaway plays Solène, the owner of a small art gallery located in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. Solène is also a single mother to Izzy, a young woman facing the complexities of her first year in high school. Solène’s ex-husband, Daniel, showed a penchant for showering Izzy with lavish gifts, such as VIP access tickets to Coachella instead of dedicating quality time to their daughter. The admission ticket gives Izzy and her friends an exclusive opportunity to meet and greet August Moon, a boy band whose fascination has faded for Izzy since she was in seventh grade. However, their plans go awry when Daniel reneges on his commitment to accompany Izzy to the festival due to an urgent business trip. The turn of events forces Solène to abandon her dream of going on a camping excursion alone and selflessly prioritize her daughter’s needs by taking Izzy and her friends to a concert.

A humorous social faux pas is committed by Solène when she confuses a luxurious trailer for a portable lavatory. The pop singer August Moon’s member Hayes Campbell, who rose to stardom through boy band tryouts at an early age, is featured in the video. Even with his enormous fortune and notoriety, Hayes still possesses a fragility that will always be connected to young people who achieve success. Hayes was intrigued not just by Solène’s lack of recognition but also by the contrast between her and the continuous public attention Hayes received. It compelled him to look for her because of her indisputable attractiveness.

Underlying Issues

His search takes him to the Solène art museum, where he buys every piece on exhibit in a performative expression of love. They withdrew for lunch into the safety of Solène’s home due to the reporters and admirers. Here, the sharing of personal narratives about common experiences with trust challenges fosters meaningful partnerships. A kiss that culminates in such emotional vulnerability suggests the possibility of a very strong romantic connection.

The original story starts with an intriguing and somewhat obvious idea, but it soon devolves into a situation full of contradictions. The year is explicitly given as 2024, which is a time of media saturation and the enduring strength of fan culture. But the narrative also describes Solène’s ability to travel throughout Europe with a well-known band and her ability to date in public without drawing notice to herself. One of the biggest story problems is the flagrant disdain for the reality of celebrity surveillance. As a result, it disintegrates the tenuous but believable story.

However, despite living in a media-rich environment and spending nearly half of his life in the spotlight, Hayes is portrayed as an underdeveloped figure. By making the adult male character four years older than in the original material, the story aims to lessen the unsettling nature of his obsession with women. The fundamental issues were not addressed by the surface-level adjustments, though. Hayes’s portrayal of a lost but extremely sensitive young guy is his main distinguishing feature; aside from his unshakable commitment to Solène, he lacks any real personality. It’s romanticized, yet on the verge of being unrealistic, the concept of the “perfect lover.”

The story skips over Hayes’s potential for depth; he didn’t look into the psychological effects of his celebrity, or the codependency or undifferentiated need that resulted from his bond with Solène. Despite the film mentioning it briefly, we never learn how his relationship with his mother was never discussed again. Similarly, the story says nothing about its hopes and dreams, like wanting kids or worrying about the generation division between the young and the old.

The characterization of Solène is shallow. Even if she shows signs of feeling (such as love for her kid and sadness from her ex-partner, which was touchingly displayed on their journey to St. Vincent together), it is still surface-level. Her encouragement of regional artists exemplifies complexity and the possibility of artistic sensitivity. Her motivating features have not yet matured, therefore the main conflict—her reluctance to form an emotional bond with a pop singer who is considerably older than her daughter—feels inevitable.

Hayes’s character, in contrast, is much less developed. His obsession with Solène and maybe his penchant for songwriting are the only things that set him apart. The audience’s ability to connect with the characters is hampered by their lack of growth. Nonetheless, the soundtrack to the film, which consists of both original compositions and well-placed old songs (referred to as “needle drop”), is regarded as being of a very high caliber.

As an aside, The Idea of You was successful in making the viewer question the central premise of the romance. A meet-cute situation could seem improbable. But the chemistry between Hayes and Solène overcomes the odds. Hathaway skillfully conveys Solène’s disillusionment with love through subtle cues; she suggests that her flirtatiousness has been suppressed by past romantic betrayals. However, Nicholas Galitzine gives Hayes a lovely combination of emotional awareness and direct involvement. It was much more captivating to watch their connection grow naturally during a joint arts tour of Los Angeles than it was during the subsequent European trip.

The Price of Fame

The phrase “the idea of you” captures Solène’s naive faith that she can manage the relationship and shield it from the paparazzi’s constant scrutiny. With a deft touch, Michael Showalter transports us into the pop star’s world, granting us access to lavish private aircraft, South of France getaways, and backstage event areas. But the film wisely chooses not to replicate the wild audience frenzy seen in the mockumentary Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, providing a more subdued portrayal of fan interaction. The intrusive aspect of celebrity culture is something Solène has to deal with. The prospect of their romance lasting a long time is seriously clouded by her wish to stay out of the spotlight.

Readers found certain parts of the original novel to be controversial, so Showalter decided to change it for the screen to guarantee a more gratifying ending. It portrays the expected response of traditional and social media, particularly online tabloids, to the disclosure of Solène and Hayes’ relationship, despite the extremely fantastical nature of the plot. When Solène confides in Tracy, her confidante in the art world, the sad truth becomes apparent: individual happiness and society’s expectations are never in line. In the same vein, Hayes’ devoted fan group developed a possessive bond with him, seeing him as perpetually unmarried and eager to realize their dreams.

A purposeful rejection of pop music industry satire is also evident in the film, marking a break from the self-consciously satirical style of meta-comedies such as Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and This Is Spinal Tap. Hayes portrays a sincere dread of being written off as a humorous caricature, while Solène, who is reluctant to accept the truth of their connection, keeps him hidden from her friends. Though there were numerous difficulties in translating Robinne Lee’s book, I think the most crucial part was rewriting the finale.

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