The Idea of You: Do the Changes From the Book Hurt or Help the Movie?

Spoilers

“The Idea of You” is like Taylor Swift’s “Illicit Affairs.”

Several TV shows and films have featured forbidden romance, but this film included a May-December romance and character exploration uniquely.

Varied audiences will appreciate the stellar performances of Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine.

Adapted from Robinne Lee’s novel of the same name, the film follows Solène (Anne Hathaway), a divorced single mom who is turning 40 and seeking direction in her life.

The film’s heart is about her self-reflection and unlikely romance with the 24-year-old lead singer of August Moon, Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine).

Solène had hoped for a weekend alone but got roped into taking her teenage daughter Izzy (Ella Rubin) and her friends to Coachella when her ex-husband, Daniel, bailed on taking them.

In an adorable meet-cute, Solène accidentally ended up in Hayes’ trailer, thinking it was the VIP restroom, and immediately formed a connection with the hunky Brit, who was charmed that she didn’t recognize him and swarmed around him like the rest of his avid fans.

Solène wasn’t used to surprises, so when Hayes showed up at her art gallery and purchased everything in it, his gesture overwhelmed her. While she appreciated it, she fell for him even more when he played the piano in an intimate moment with just the two.

Before long, Solène fell hard for Hayes, traveled to New York for a secret rendezvous, and even agreed to accompany him on his European tour while Izzy was gone for the summer. But she wasn’t prepared for the media circus and other people’s opinions.

Anne Hathaway shined in The Idea of You as she portrayed a more relatable version of Solène since she traded in her Malibu residence and Range Rover for a craftsman-style house and a Subaru.

She felt out of place in Hayes’s world, with its squealing fans, private jets, Tag Heuer watches, and vacation homes in France. In some ways, it’s pure fantasy; in other ways, it’s a nightmare, especially when his bandmates and their girlfriends pepper her with questions.

Hathaway excels at portraying a middle-aged woman deciding what she wants next and an exciting romance with a younger guy that comes with a cost. So many women wonder if “fine” is enough and are afraid to wish for more.

Producer Cathy Schulman loved the appeal of Solène. What’s interesting about Solène is that she’s an example of what happens to many women as they approach middle age. It’s pretty easy to say, ‘Hey, I’ve done okay. I’ve married, maybe divorced, I’ve raised children, I have a career, so why seek anything more?’

Like, I’m good, I’m done, end of story. But to open herself up again to love and seek more than those securities that define a safe life, Solène has to risk being heartbroken again. She has to push herself into wanting more than satisfactory.”

While Anne Hathaway’s Solène owned The Idea of You, Nicholas Galitzine was the epitome of Hayes Campbell. He had the charisma and talent to pull off a boy bander, and he featured sizzling chemistry with Anne.

I’d never typecast, but I noticed a similar vulnerability in Hayes that Prince Henry had in Red, White, and Royal Blue. Neither liked others assuming things about them because they were famous, and that’s why Hayes was so charmed with Solène.

It’s also why he seemed so hurt that she wouldn’t tell anyone about their relationship. Hayes had gotten used to being an open book, whereas she was a private person because she had been burned before.

While I appreciated seeing them travel around the world, some of my favorite moments were intimate talks in her house.

We have to discuss August Moon, the boy band. It was so impressive how they took the ideas Robinne Lee created and made them come to life.

Renowned songwriter Savan Kotecha took rough ideas and created the hits ” Closer, ” Guard Down, “Dance Before I Walk,” and the others on the movie soundtrack. Hayes dedicated “Closer” to Solène the night they first met.

In addition to Galitzine, the other four August Moon members were hired for their dance abilities. All of them attended a rigorous boot camp, so their routines would resemble those of an actual boy band, which the Coachella and tour scenes resembled.

The film beautifully honored Robinne Lee’s novel, with screenwriter Jennifer Westfeltd and director Michael Showalter altering key elements, beginning with changing Hayes and Izzy’s ages.

Making Hayes 24 instead of 20 was still a May-December romance, but it didn’t seem as icky or forbidden.

Increasing Izzy’s age to an older teen was even more critical because it didn’t seem like Solène was missing pivotal moments that a preteen daughter experiences like in the novel.

Besides that, in the novel, Izzy had a massive crush on Hayes, which upped the ickiness factor of Solène and Hayes dating. However, in the film version, Izzy had outgrown August Moon and preferred Rory.

The film version focused on Solène and Izzy’s closeness. Izzy wasn’t as upset that her mother found someone new but that she kept it from her, especially after her dad had an affair and lied about it.

Director Michael Showalter commented, “Izzy and Solène are very close. They’re friends; they tell each other everything. That is precisely why, at first, it’s so hard for Izzy to accept a relationship with Hayes.”

“It isn’t the fact of the affair itself but that her mother had kept it from her, which inadvertently results in Izzy finding out about it in the most public and embarrassing way.”

Like many mothers, Solène sacrificed her happiness after the media circus affected her daughter. She hated the cruel things they said about her, but it affected her even more when her daughter lashed out and repeated what high school students thought of her.

While “The Idea of You” is a romantic comedy, it also includes dramatic elements that make you think. Why did the press judge Solène so harshly?

Why are women deemed sluts or horrible mothers when they think of their own needs and sleep with younger men, but men congratulate each other if they land a younger woman?

Solène never imagined people would care about her love life, but as her best friend Tracy quipped, “The world doesn’t like happy women.”

The Idea of You shows how both main characters overcame those social demands to pursue a genuine connection.

One significant change from Lee’s novel was the film’s ending. The book and film include the angsty break-up conversation when Solène lets Hayes go because the media circus is too much for her and Izzy.

In the book, she lies and tells him she doesn’t love him and only loves the “idea” of him, so he’ll leave. After continuously texting her without a response, Hayes eventually gives up and moves on.

That ending always felt like a let-down, but Lee has defended her novel, saying that French romances are infamous for not ending happily and that true love doesn’t always win.

Director and producer Michael Showalter changed the ending to a more hopeful one since audiences expect a happily ever after in Hollywood rom-coms.

In the film version, after Solène and Hayes kiss goodbye, he urges her to connect with him in five years after things die down and Izzy is in college.

The film jumps forward in time with both of them successful, but Hayes appears on a talk show and announces he’s going to LA to see someone special.

It ends with Deja vu as he reappears at her art gallery, smiling madly.

This ending shows that love is worth fighting for but that sometimes you must wait for the right moment. It showed that they still pined for each other those five years, so true love never dies.

What were your thoughts on “The Idea of You?’ Did you like the changes from Robinne Lee’s novel, or were there some things you wish they had kept in?

What did you think of Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine’s performances?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Prime Video’s latest movie, so share them below.

The Idea of You is now streaming on Prime Video.

Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on X.

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