Anne Hathaway Dazzles in Thoughtful Romance

April 26, 2024 - Movies


  • Hathaway shines in a role mirroring her own struggles with media scrutiny, adding personal depth to her character’s journey.
  • Gender-flipped romance with an age gap offers fresh commentary on public perception, highlighting societal biases against older women.
  • The film skillfully navigates the complexities of fame and online hate, showing the damaging impact of parasocial relationships.

Falling in love with “the idea of” someone is a complex idea that is difficult to define. It typically means falling for an idealized version of a person, ignoring their flaws while also giving into a desire to be wanted. Yet where does the line between falling in love with the idea of someone end and genuinely falling in love begin? Once you’ve fallen in love, is love enough to keep you going, or will others’ perception of the idea of you eat away at it? These are the questions at the heart of Prime Video’s sweet and thoughtful romantic drama, The Idea of You, starring Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine.

The Idea of You is an update on the Notting Hill formula of a normal person becoming the romantic partner of a wildly famous individual and the struggle to maintain a normal healthy relationship while also being judged by the whole world, and it truly updates it in every meaning of the word, where now the tabloid press is expanded into 24-hour social media comments. There is no escape from the scrutiny now.

A Reversal of the Notting Hill Formula

The Idea of You (2024)


Release Date
May 2, 2024

Anne Hathaway Nicholas Galitzine , Ella Rubin , Annie Mumolo , Reid Scott , Perry Mattfeld , Jordan Aaron Hall , Mathilda Gianopoulos

115 Minutes


  • Hathaway is wonderful in the lead role
  • Great chemistry between the central pairing
  • A smart take on celebrity culture

  • Not particularly original

The Idea of You‘s main updates to the formula are flipping the genders of the partners, with the man as the celebrity and the woman as the everyday person, and also making a considerable age gap where a 40-year-old mother begins a relationship with a 24-year-old singer. This simple update goes a long way in elevating The Idea of You from the simple rom-com setup into being a fascinating commentary on how the media and fandom not only hate women, but specifically older women.

The basic plot is that 40-year-old single mom Solène Marchand (Hathaway) is trying to find herself two years after her ex-husband (Reid Scott) left her for a younger woman. At his request, due to a last-minute business trip, he asks her to take their teenage daughter Izzy (Ella Rubin) to Coachella for her to have a meet and greet with her formerly favorite boy band, August Moon.

In a surprising turn of events, Solène strikes up a budding romance with the band’s 24-year-old lead singer, Hayes Campbell (Galitzine). Despite their best efforts to keep the romance a secret, they eventually become the subject of tabloids and social media, with Solène receiving the brunt of the hate from the world, and the two must decide if their new romance can truly last or if this will be a short-lived experience.

A Romance Is Only As Strong As Its Two Leads

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You
Amazon MGM Studios/Somewhere Pictures/Welle Entertainment

The Idea of You is certainly a two-hander between Hathaway and Galitizine, but it is Hathaway who walks away with the movie. She has always been one of the best actresses working, and following her Oscar win for Les Miserable, she received a lot of unwanted hate from media outlets that then bled into public discourse, creating a toxic narrative around Hathaway that, thankfully, most people have moved on from.

This makes casting Hathaway as a woman vilified by the media-inspired casting and one that Hathaway is able to bring a great deal of personal experience to with plenty of subtle nuances. Hathaway herself is just such a commanding presence in the film, giving Solène both confidence and a paradoxical uncertainty in herself, giving her a naturalistic performance. It really does feel hard to imagine anyone else but Hathaway in this role.

Nicholas Galitzine has emerged as one of the most exciting young performers. Last year, the back-to-back releases of Red, White, and Royal Blue and Bottoms were such contrasting performances that showed his range. Red, White, and Royal Blue was a more typical romance, while Bottoms was an over-the-top hyper-exaggerated comedy. In both films, he fully committed, particularly in Bottoms, where he had some of the funniest line readings of any movie, last year.

Hathaway and Galitzine Have Charming Chemistry

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine in The Idea of You
Amazon MGM Studios/Somewhere Pictures/Welle Entertainment

Here, Galitzine returns to what is a more traditional dreamy romance, the ultimate object of Solène’s desire. Yet the movie does not treat him as a one-dimensional object that a lesser film might have. Hayes Campbell is a young, talented musician who, despite his fame, feels like a joke, which informs his relationship and insecurities with Solène, and this does a good job of balancing out their dynamic to where both characters feel fleshed out. The movie never talks down to him, and despite his young age, he is just as capable of making his own choices. By the end of the film, there is no doubt Galitzine certainly has the presence of a star.

As far as chemistry, it is apparent from their first meet-cute that Hathawawy and Galitzine have it. The movie quickly allows them to meet so a good portion of the first act can be dedicated to their courtship. Like a good romance novel, the movie truly builds the tension to their first kiss, making the audience lean in anticipation for it to happen because their first “date” is an accurate, honest depiction of getting to know someone for the first time. The awkwardness of asking questions, choosing what to reveal about oneself, and the exciting nature of discovering more about someone.



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Director Michael Showalter has always been great at crafting these real romances that balance comedy and intimacy, from the much loved The Big Sick to the underrated gems of Hello, My Name is Dorris and Spoiler Alert and The Idea of You features not only more of what audiences love from his prior movies but also a true sensuality that is often lacking from mainstream romances.

The Darkside of Parasocial Relationships

August Moon in The Idea of You
Amazon MGM Studios/Somewhere Pictures/Welle Entertainment

The Idea of You is an adaptation of actress and writer Robinne Lee’s book of the same name that was published in 2017. The screenplay is credited to director Michael Showalter and co-writer Jennifer Westfeldt. Despite being based on a book from seven years ago, The Idea of You is a movie very much tapping into the cultural zeitgeist of the moment while also being a story that seems to repeat itself constantly, and society has still yet to learn its lessons.

The boy band August Moon can be identified as either a One Direction or NSYNC stand-in, with Hayes Campbell being either a Harry Styles or Justin Timberlake stand-in. The film’s commentary on an older woman being with a younger man of one generation (likely those around the age of Hathaway’s character) is similar to how the media scrutinized Demi Moore’s relationship with Ashton Kutcher in the early 2000s.


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The Harry Styles comparison seems more apt as Harry Styles’s much-publicized romance with director Olivia Wilde on the set of Don’t Worry Darling became a major source of Hollywood gossip among the trades. Wilde herself was on the receiving end of some incredibly nasty comments from fans of Styles in the almost two-year period of their relationship. Despite the book being published four years prior and the movie being well into casting during this period, it is hard to ignore the parallels. The fact that it is timely now but also has plenty of other comparisons an audience can draw certainly speaks to how this is an issue that has not gotten better with time.

Some have incorrectly labeled The Idea of YouHarry Styles fan-fiction, but not only is that not accurate in terms of the actual book, but the text itself is less about a solid wish fulfillment and more of a deconstruction of fandom and the parasocial relationship fans have with their favorite creators seen through the eyes of their romantic partner. Once the secret of Solène and Hayes’s romance becomes known to the public, the movie then shifts its gear.

Anne Hathaway and Ella Rubin in The Idea of you
Amazon MGM Studios/Somewhere Pictures/Welle Entertainment

Just as the characters are now no longer safe from media scrutiny, the sweet, intimate romance that defined the first half then gives way to a critique of the tabloid press. Early on, it is made clear that most of the scrutiny about their relationship is unfairly leveled at Solène for two major reasons: one, she is a woman, and two, she is older than him. The unfair double standard of older men being with younger women being normalized and rarely commented on and called out. Solène is happy, and so is Hayes, yet their happiness makes other people so angry.

By the end of the film, the two are so in love, but the world is pulling them apart from one another. There is no escape from the hate as social media has turned it into a 24-hour loop. The movie highlights how hateful, mean-spirited, and outright cruel the comments can be, attacking Solène as a mother and trying to even paint her as a predator despite Hayes being a grown man. In the end, the same fans so badly want Solène and Hayes to break up for some unjust reason and end up making him miserable as they push away someone he loves and loves him back. This is a romance with plenty on its mind, and while by the end of the movie, it can feel its runtime a bit, it is as good a commentary on people’s attachment to celebrities as it is a romance.

Michael Showalter is one of the most reliable filmmakers when it comes to making mid-budget movies centered on well-rounded characters played by great actors, so it is no surprise that The Idea of You is another strong entry in his filmography that is filled with gems. With great lead performances by Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine, The Idea of You is a delightful start for the summer movie season and one that can be enjoyed by anyone, even people who try to act above romance movies.

The Idea of You arrives on Prime Video on May 2, 2024. Watch the trailer below.

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