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Awesome: 23.81%
Worth A Look: 9.52%
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4 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Imagine Me and You
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by Mel Valentin

"Unsympathetic central characters makes for a long, hard slog."
3 stars

To be successful with their target audiences, romantic comedies depend on an easy-to-spot, easy-to-follow, comforting formula where "true love" wins out in the end. In most cases, the central characters in romantic comedies are unable or incapable of acting on their romantic feelings, due to social, cultural, personal or racial obstacles. In other cases, misconceptions or misunderstandings lead the potential lovers to take an instant dislike to each other. Before the inevitable consummation, the lovers have to work through objections from families and friends. The conventions of the romantic comedy genre dictate that complications and reversals, while difficult, are never impossible to overcome, with the lovers duly bonded in monogamous bliss moments before the end credits roll.

Written and directed by Ol Parker, Imagine Me & You belongs to the subset of romantic comedies that centers on a romantic triangle. At their core, though, romantic comedies depend on the inherent likeability of the central characters and their circumstances (and no more so when infidelity is involved). One way to make the final choice more palatable to audiences is to depict the third party negatively, making him or her easy to dislike and root against. The potential lovers may go through periodic self-examination, but ultimately obligations, doubts, and uncertainties give way to the demands of romantic love, regardless of the consequences.

On Heck (Matthew Goode) and Rachel's (Piper Perabo) wedding day, Rachel makes eye contact with the florist, Luce (Lena Headey). Taking an instant liking to each other at the reception, the women become friends. Heck's horndog friend, Coop (Darren Boyd), crudely expresses interest in Luce, only to discover at a dinner party that Luce is a lesbian. Heck thinks nothing of his wife's increasing closeness to Rachel, not even when her behavior noticeably cools toward him just days and weeks after their marriage. As Imagine Me & You unfolds, Heck becomes concerned about his wife's eccentric behavior, Rachel develops romantic feelings toward Luce, and Luce struggles with the impact a romantic relationship with Rachel will have on everyone concerned. Imagine Me & You also throws in a minor diversion involving Luce's reclusive, chronically depressed mother, Ella (Sue Johnston). Luce is determined to help her mother emerge from her depression. Meanwhile, Heck's unhappiness leads to frustrations at work (he's a stockbroker).

Viewers even vaguely familiar with the predictable plotting of romantic comedies will know where, and with whom, the characters end up. All the obligatory scenes are there, from the initial heart-to-heart talks between Rachel and Luce that suggests they're soul mates, Luce and her mother discussing romantic love (insert "follow your heart" line here), Rachel and Heck, one or two emotional confessions (including one played cleverly), a late-inning race to the airport, a brief montage to give the viewers a taste of monogamous bliss, and for the odd person left in the cold, the easy hope of another, perhaps more genuine romantic relationship. From this catalog of scene, it's obvious we've seen them all before, and not surprisingly, it suggests that Parker studied romantic comedies closely before embarking on making his own.

Here, Parker makes Rachel minimally sympathetic. Setting Imagine Me & You on Rachel's wedding day (as opposed to, for example, the month before her marriage) is a large part of the problem. Knowing nothing about Rachel before her marriage, viewers are expected to uncritically accept that Rachel is either unaware of her sexual orientation (Imagine Me & You is set in London, after all) or magically made aware of her "true" orientation when she meets the Luce for the first time. Having Rachel and Luce's relationship develop post-marriage makes it difficult to sympathize with Rachel's dilemma, especially when Parker makes Heck a likeable, if slightly clueless, character. Heck behaves impeccably, showing nothing of the negativity or spitefulness necessary for viewers to shift their sympathies, even if only slightly, toward Rachel and Luce.

Despite the problematic premise and the formulaic storyline, Parker shows a keen ear for humorous dialogue, especially in the scenes featuring the abrasive, vulgar Coop and Rachel's combative parents, Ned (Anthony Head) and Tessa (Celia Imrie). Parker also deserves credit for eliciting warm, grounded performances from most of his cast, including Piper Perabo, an American actress affecting a British accent. While her accent is credible, her somewhat limited expressivity makes Rachel even more difficult to like (a better written role, however, would have helped). Still, Perabo is better here than in her performances (including last year's forgettable sci-fi/horror/action flick, The Cave, where she shared screen time with Lena Headey as well). Perabo’s performance suggests that Parker closely collaborated with her.

Ultimately, "Imagine Me & You" sinks under the weight of unsympathetic characters, familiar, formulaic plot convolutions, and uncritical acceptance of the themes inherent in the genre, to wit, that finding and accepting an idealized "true love" takes paramount importance over everything else, including the emotional consequences to the third person in the romantic triangle.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12889&reviewer=402
originally posted: 03/27/06 03:49:56
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/21/08 AnnieG A pretty good romantic film with some enjoyable characters, and my favorite lesbian movie. 4 stars
8/20/07 alexandra I loved it, I passed an excellent time 5 stars
8/09/07 Lisa This movie will make you hot all over 5 stars
6/27/07 karen i loved it 5 stars
6/21/07 carmen yasso very nice movie any one can enjoy it 5 stars
11/07/06 kitty kat this movie was okay very predictable but it was worth watching 3 stars
10/27/06 Romanos Sweet and easy-to-see.Original,rarely seen plot with predictable,"straight" ending,though 4 stars
10/19/06 hayden i love it. glad i watch it. both women are very beautiful. 5 stars
10/18/06 Marija I ADORE THIS MOVIE ! 5 stars
10/16/06 Louise Unconvincing storyline, predictable ending and rather stupid script. 2 stars
10/12/06 Jo This movie has fun, charm, chemistry, and love between an awesome cast. MUST SEE!!! 5 stars
10/10/06 Denying les I think its a girls kind of a movie.It was light hearted Mushy movie.somehtin 4 every garl 4 stars
7/25/06 Owen Natchios OMG! ! ! This film rocked the hell outta me! 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Was not expecting much, but got a rather delightful comedy, but not believeable. 4 stars
4/01/06 Natasha You have to watch it 5 stars
3/27/06 Blutarsky Awful, awful movie. Don't bother, unless you love the genre. 1 stars
2/22/06 Catherine Milne Totally loved it 5 stars
9/18/05 denny very enjoyable but nothing special; predictable 3 stars
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  DVD: 27-Jun-2006

  31-Mar-2006 (12A)


Directed by
  Ol Parker

Written by
  Ol Parker

  Darren Boyd
  Matthew Goode
  Anthony Head
  Lena Headey
  Sharon Horgan
  Celia Imrie

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