Movie Review: The Idea of You

Anne Hathaway gets her groove back—as if she ever lost it.

The Idea of You is about a 40-old-woman who has an affair with a 24-year-old pop idol. And I must say, it’s truly refreshing to see a woman with cellulite, stretch marks, and wrinkles land herself such a young hottie. JK—the woman is played by Anne Hathaway, in casual chic attire and bangs only she can pull off, looking more luminescent than ever.

Hathaway has always been a beauty, but in her younger years, she also convincingly played gawky (see Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada). There’s nothing gawky about her now. She recently wowed me in a femme fatale-ish role in the criminally underseen Eileen. She had an allure, a kind of gravitas in that film that reminded of no less than Cate Blanchett.

Here, she’s leaning into her Julia Roberts era—electric smile, gobs of charisma, and a kind of cozy and confident sex appeal.

Her character’s young lover, Hayes Campbell, is the lead singer of the boy band August Moon. He’s played by rising star Nicholas Galitzine, who is indeed charming and hot, although not totally convincing as this boy band stud. Galitzine has a kind of sensuous, heavy-lidded beauty that tends to appeal to, well, older women. Most boy band members have a cutie-pie androgyny. (Also: Those fake tattoos? Unconvincing!). One thing that is convincing: August Moon’s super catchy, radio-friendly music, written by songwriters Savan Kotecha and Carl Falk. And Galitzine has a respectable singing voice.

The Idea of You is directed with breezy affection and confidence by the always reliable Michael Showalter (The Big Sick). No, it doesn’t have the snappy cleverness of Notting Hill—what does?—but it should appeal to folks craving an intelligent and sexy romcom.

Hathaway plays Solène (!), a gallery owner who’s still reeling a bit from a recent divorce and the sting of turning 40. Her big-shot lawyer ex-husband, Daniel (Reid Scott), cheated on her with a younger woman at the firm, who now seems desperate to become besties with Solène (who understandably scoffs at these overtures). Solène, refreshingly, has a good relationship with her 17-year-old daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin).

It’s because of Izzy that Solène is at Coachella—Daniel bought Izzy and her friends all-access passes to meet August Moon. (It’s actually a minor, but clever detail that Izzy’s preoccupied father doesn’t realize that she hasn’t been into August Moon since the 7th grade. These days, she prefers the likes of St. Vincent.)

Solène encounters Hayes backstage after a meet-cute involving a trailer mistaken for a bathroom. He’s immediately smitten. She thinks he’s attractive, but harmlessly so. He’s a baby! Later, Hayes dedicates a song to Solène from stage. Again, she’s amused, but doesn’t think too much of it—until he shows up the next day at her gallery and promptly buys all of the art. (He insists he has an empty house and likes Solène’s taste.)

They have lunch, they kiss; they spend more time together. They begin having an affair. She worries she’s too old for him. He worries he’s “a joke” as a musician. They lift each other up.

And then there are conflicts. I won’t go into them all, so as not to spoil the movie, but they involve things like internet trolls, paparazzi, and the effect all of this is having on Izzy. Will they make it or won’t they?

The Idea of You so deftly avoids cliches, I wasn’t totally sure until the very end.


The Idea of You is now playing on Prime Video