Imagine Me & You

Movie Review >>

Imagine Me & You poster photophoto courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

Imagine Me & You is a highly amusing British take on the love-at-first-sight romantic comedy, with a homosexual twist. Rachel (Piper Perabo) is marrying Heck (Mathew Goode) when she locks eyes with florist Luce (Lena Headey) and faster than you can say Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel���s got marital problems and a budding lesbian romance.

Imagine Me & You poster
Imagine Me & You
(Fox Searchlight)
Rated: R
starstarstar (out of 4)
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Curt dialogue and snappy one-liners never cease, while the film has enough ���aw!��� moments to satisfy the sentimental-needy. It���s not that much of a surprise as the Brits excel at this kind of comedy on television (���Coupling��� is a far funnier “Friends” knockoff) and in film (Four Weddings and Funeral anyone?). If you���re looking for a sure-fire date flick, you���re probably best off going British.

But Imagine Me and You runs into the same trouble most romantic comedies (especially American) do: its leads aren���t nearly as interesting as its costars. In particular, Goode, last seen in Woody Allen���s Match Point, proves he���s one of the best leading men out there ��� he truly inhabits the role of Heck, who is trying to avert crises in his professional and personal lives, right when everything should be falling into place. He���s got the sweet, high-paying job, the luxury flat, and the hot, hot wife, but what has he given up to achieve all that? (Or as David Byrne might say, ���Mah god, what have I done?���) In fact the movie might have been perfect if it focused entirely on Heck and the tall and gaunt Goode.

Heck���s best mate Coop is utterly hilarious in his chauvinism, but Darren Boyd subtly conveys that Coop is more talk than cad. And Anthony Head (you may remember him as Giles on TV���s ���Buffy the Vampire Slayer���) as Rachel���s world-weary father gets the lion���s share of throwaway lines: ���I love the smell of hot dogs in the morning. Smells like… hot dogs.���

The problem is writer/director Ol Parker has come up with some really interesting, fleshed-out male characters, but his women feel like cardboard cutouts. This wouldn���t be all that bad if the center of the plot wasn���t about two women falling in love. But for the most part, Headey and Perabo are eye candy; while their longing glances and awkward conversation show their initial attraction is strong, it���s a stretch to see this relationship advance because there���s not much to either one���s character and the actresses don���t seem all that interested in finding any depth. When Rachel and Luce finally get to physically exploring their growing passion (make-out city, here we come), it comes off like a couple of drunk schoolgirls experimenting.

It is surprising, though, how enjoyable the film is despite this central shallowness. Scenes involving quirky flower shop customers are side-splitting and Heck and Coop���s chumminess is reminiscent of Randall and Dante in Clerks. Plus Parker has a knack for setting up situations ripe with comedy, such as Rachel���s awkward attempt to watch a lesbian porn or a return-to-nature sex encounter between Rachel and Heck that takes a hilarious (and unexpected) turn. The end falls a bit into clich?�, but it���s well-executed clich?� and, more importantly for a good date movie, sweet.

Oh, and then there���s the gay thing, or there really isn���t. Seriously, it���s a nonissue ��� not one character seems to think there���s anything wrong with love between two women. There are no vulgar slurs or homophobic jokes. The only complaint comes from Rachel���s mother and it���s about the loss of potential grandchildren, but Rachel���s father settles that by explaining an alternative use for a turkey baster. You could replace Luce with a man and you���d have the same movie. To some extent the treatment of the gay relationship feels like a Brit reaction to U.S. homophobia; the film seems to jab America and whisper in its ear, ���What the bloody hell is wrong with you Yanks?���

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STARRING: Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, Celia Imrie, Anthony Head, Sue Johnston, and Darren Boyd
GENRE(S): Comedy, Foreign, Romance
WRITTEN BY: Ol Parker
DIRECTED BY: Ol Parker
RELEASE DATE: Theatrical: January 27, 2006
RATING: R
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes, Color
ORIGIN: UK, Germany
LANGUAGE(S): English