Movie review: 'Idea of You' never finds its groove

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway star in "The Idea of You." Photo courtesy of Prime
1 of 5 | Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway star in "The Idea of You." Photo courtesy of Prime

LOS ANGELES, April 25 (UPI) -- The Idea of You, on Prime Video on May 2, combines Notting Hill with How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Unfortunately, it is not as good as either film.

Solène (Anne Hathaway) is a single mother to 16-year-old Izzy (Ella Rubin). When Solène's ex-husband, Daniel (Reid Scott), saddles her with chaperoning Izzy and friends to Coachella, Solène meets Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), a 24-year-old singer in August Moon.


Hayes actually likes Solène and romances her. Solène resists because of their age difference as she celebrates her 40th birthday, but he ultimately wins her over.

The romance part of the story is fine, if standard romantic-comedy formula. It makes sense that Hayes is attracted to a real woman who doesn't fawn over him, though he acknowledges his physical attraction to her, too.

Solène still is the movie star version of a working mom. Perhaps it is justifiable that a woman with an art gallery also is fashionable, but it's not like she's a housewife in mom jeans.


That's just another trope of the way Hollywood can't help but glamorize characters it's trying to portray as "normal." It's like the beautiful woman who passes for a nerd wearing glasses with her hair in a ponytail, or a successful woman sitting on the sofa alone eating ice cream.

A subtle transition from flirtation to seduction is palpable, and Hayes playing Solène's piano is a good move. Solène is as concerned about the logistics of dating a celebrity as much as the age difference.

But, Solène and Hayes spend most of the movie alone together, either in her house or in his hotel rooms around the world. There are no real complications for much of the film, only that Izzy's school year will start at the end of the summer and Solène will have to return.

If the story decides to just focus on the fantasy, that would be a valid choice. When the film decides to address the reality of Hayes and Solène's relationship in the last half-hour, that's not enough time to really engage with the issues.

This may be an issue with the novel on which the film is based, if it is faithful. There are superficial observations about the double standards between men and women dating younger partners, the invasiveness of the press and toxic fandom, but it's too little too late at that point.


Izzy mentions classmates who say things about her mother, but that would be more impactful if those classmates were ever on-screen characters who had a relationship with Izzy before commenting on her mom's love life.

It would be more powerful if the audience actually witnessed the harassment Izzy encounters rather than hearing about it from her afterwards.

Romantic comedies usually follow the formula of a couple in which one or both parties resist each other, as Solène does here. Then they can't deny their attraction and have a whirlwind romance until some complication tears them apart.

Most rom-coms have happy endings, so it's not a spoiler to suggest they all include a reconciliation scene. The Idea of You repeats the complication-reconciliation arc twice, which suggests the story isn't focused enough to avoid redundancy and repetition.

The comedy part of the romantic comedy lacks any memorable moments. Hayes is charming when he shops in Solène's art gallery and jokes about dealing with fans and photographers, but his only real zinger is one line about apples.

So, there are better movies both about dating a celebrity and about romance with a younger partner. There should be room for more than one of each, but The Idea of You is not it.


Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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