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4 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Imagine Me and You
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Piper, I wish I knew how to quit you."
2 stars

If “Martha Stewart Living” ever decided to boost circulation by including an erotic letters section a la “Penthouse Forum,” I suspect that most of the resulting tales would resemble “Imagine Me and You.” This is a film that is theoretically meant to be a screwball comedy about grand passion, sexual awakening and the love that dare not speak its name, yet it seems more interested in the floral arrangements and interior decorating choices made by the characters instead of their emotional ones. The result is a film where a scene in which a fancy sofa is purchased at an auction is treated with more heat and excitement than any of the subsequent action that may or may not occur on that very same sofa.

The ever-beguiling Piper Perabo stars as Rachel, a sweet-natured British lass who, as the film opens, is getting ready for her wedding that afternoon to Heck (Matthew Goode), a charming bloke who is so good-natured and mild-mannered that he might as well have “Baxter” permanently chiseled on his forehead. Everything seems perfect until the moment when Rachel is walking down the aisle and she catches a glimpse of someone out of the corner of her eye–the kind of slo-mo glimpse that inevitably signals the beginning of True Love in a romantic comedy or the beginning of an epic gun battle in an old John Woo film. The shocking twist, at least for those who have somehow stumbled into the film unawares, is that the someone is–gasp!–Luce (Lena Headey), the florist who did the arrangements for the wedding. Nevertheless, Rachel goes through with the nuptials and everything seems to be fine, though one might take her wedding ring falling off of her finger and into the punch bowl, only to be fished out by Luce, as some kind of omen.

Although perfectly happy with Heck, whose very name alone should suggest how much of a bloodless milquetoast he really is, Rachel just can’t seem to quit Luce and, misreading her earlier feelings, decides to cultivate a friendship with her and even tries to set her up with Heck’s randy best pal Coop (Darren Boyd). What she doesn’t quite grasp is that Luce is indeed a lesbian and is indeed crushing on her, though in a restrained manner because she doesn’t believe in love and doesn’t want to break up a happy couple. Eventually, the light bulb above Rachel’s head finally clicks on and she begins to figure out Luce’s feelings for her and her growing feelings for Luce. Before long, Rachel begins to grow distant from Heck and, after putting up what could best be described as a token resistance, finds herself rolling around with Luce among the budding blossoms in the back of the flower shop in a moment that may, if I’m not mistaken, have been designed to be somewhat symbolic.

The notion of a presumably straight person being thunderstruck by an unanticipated same-sex infatuation is the kind of raw material that could be spun off in any number of directions–it could be played as a lighthearted farce along the lines of “Kissing Jessica Stein” or it could be transformed into the bleak melodrama of “Brokeback Mountain.” The only thing that it requires is a firm and consistent approach and a willingness to face the material head-on. However, writer-director Oli Parker seems more interested in creating a clone of the twee British romantic comedies that Richard Curtis, the creator of “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually,” has turned into a cottage industry. He is so concerned with getting all of the familiar hallmarks of Curtis’s work into his screenplay–colorful supporting characters (besides Coop, who comes as close to the raunchy roommate played by Rhys Ifans in “Notting Hill” as is possible without inspiring a copyright infringement suit, we are also treated to Rachel’s constantly bickering parents and precocious little sister and Luce’s lovelorn mother), even-more-colorful locations, familiar pop tunes on the soundtrack and a finale in which two character profess their love for each other in a highly public (and highly unlikely) manner–that the relationship between his central characters almost feels like an afterthought at times.

The problem here is that Parker knows the words that Curtis uses but not the music. For starters, Curtis usually creates characters who are quirky and fascinating enough so that we are actually interested in following along with them despite pretty much knowing from the opening credits that all the right people will wind up in the right arms. That is definitely not the case here–Rachel comes off more as a clueless scatterbrain, Luce hardly comes across as the type to inspire anyone to go to the lengths that she does here and the two demonstrate so little chemistry together (they are depicted so chastely that I was surprised to discover after the screening that the film had been given an inexplicable “R” rating) that even the most charitable romantics in the audience are likely to give their emerging relationship maybe three weeks at the most. Frankly, Perabo and Headey seem not as much giddy in love as they are relieved to be appearing in a film that, unlike their previous pairing in “The Cave,” does not require them to deal with wetsuits, loathsome monsters or Cole Hauser.

More significantly, Curtis usually layers his fluffy romances with elements that allow reality to intrude on the fantasy–witness the speech delivered by Julia Roberts about the realities of being an aging actress in “Notting Hill” or what happens to the Laura Linney character in “Love Actually.” The things that happen in “Imagine Me and You,” if they occurred in real life, would no doubt result in many a tense moment for all involved–especially the husband who is suddenly faced with losing his wife through no fault of his own–but Parker goes to absurd lengths to make sure that everyone–yes, even the now-spurned husband–winds up happily ever after with no bad feelings about anything. If coming out to your spouse, your family and the surrounding community were as easy and tension-free as depicted here, Jack and Ennis could have spent years of guilt-free ranching together instead of going on their endless fishing trips. It is amusing to note that while some conservative critics of “Brokeback Mountain” have latched upon the idea of the characters breaking up their marriages and families because of their forbidden desires–a charge which never seems to come up when people are dealing with heterosexual romances and which doesn’t quite apply since they met before either was married in the first place–here is a film in which that actually does happen and I would be willing to bet that none of those same critics will raise a peep, though that may be because this is unlikely to either strike the same kind of cultural nerve as “Brokeback” or to simply last more than two weeks in theaters.

The one aspect of “Imagine Me and You” that I did like was the presence of Piper Perabo. This will probably not come as a shock to faithful readers who have heard me go on endlessly in the past about the merry smile and infectious cheerfulness that helped make the likes of “Coyote Ugly” and “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” far better than they had any right to be. (As for her presence in the “Cheaper By the Dozen” films, all I will offer is that even Audrey Hepburn found it necessary to appear in the likes of “Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline.”) Her work here isn’t particularly brilliant–a British accent does not exactly fall trippingly off her tongue–but she is kind of sweet and adorable in the scenes where she isn’t being jerked around by the unlikely plot and I found myself kind of rooting for her happiness long after I had washed my hands of the rest of the film.

However, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a far superior film that she did a few years ago called “Lost and Delirious” that dealt with somewhat similar material in a far more serious and realistic manner. That film at least had the courage to confront its subject matter head-on instead of shying away from it in order to avoid upsetting everyone–it contained a tragic ending but it was one that at least felt more consistent to the reality of the story and the characters than the candy-coated nonsense on display here. For all of its occasionally melodramatic excesses, “Lost and Delirious” was a real movie with real things to say and real emotions to convey (and yes, there were some Good Parts too, unlike the oddly sexless goings-on here.) “Imagine Me and You,” by comparison, is the kind of film that is so featherbrained and innocuous that when a character at a dinner party says “Trifle?,” it sounds less like a dessert suggestion and more like an honest moment of self-appraisal.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12889&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/02/06 23:41:27
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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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