imagine me & you


Written and Directed: Ol Parker

Bless its little cotton socks, this film doesn't have an original thought in its pretty little head, but it was gorgeous to look at. Or Piper Perabo and Lena Headey were gorgeous to look at. Especially Lena Headey. Whatever.

This is the second lesbian outing (pun intended) for Perabo and the third for Headey, and it is a middling effort for both. They play Rachel and Luce, star-struck lovers who lock eyes across a crowded church at Rachel's wedding and are never the same again. Unfortunately, for a film that hinged around an instant, palpable attraction between two people, they did a lot of telling us that there was an attraction, rather than just allowing us to feel it.

Sparks did fly in some scenes, most notably while Rachel and Luce are playing a game of Dance Dance Revolution at the local video game haunt or when Rachel imagines she's playing with Luce's hair in a room full of people, but it felt like these moments came too late in the film, and any heat generated just dissipated almost the moment it began. That pretty much sums up this film - a movie with some sweet moments but no real momentum.

For the most part, Imagine Me & You plays like every other nondescript RomCom of its type. Coincidences abound, each meeting meant to heighten the attaction the two women apparently feel. Suddenly two people who have never met before are seeing each other everywhere. This is literally the popcorn-muncher it appears to be in the trailers. Working Title could have made this. Hugh Grant could easily have played Coop, the jilted husband's best friend, if his starting salary weren't bigger than the budget for the entire movie.

The problem was that every time I thought the movie was doing something mildly clever, it always reminded me of films that had done the same thing before, only just a little bit better. Rachel's parents (played by the ever-reliable Anthony Stewart Head and Celia Imrie) milked every joke in the embarrassing, bickering, stoic, British parent repertoire. Luce's mother fared slightly better playing the depressed-yet-loveable mother with the biting wit, but even that was a bit tired. It just felt too much like we'd seen it all before in straight films, so a gay version wasn't too much of an improvement.

For our heroine there are some rough emotional patches, but nothing that a good motivational, parental anecdote couldn't fix in a heartbeat. Then it's off to chase down the love of her life. Sure, she was walking away from her marriage, but the tears were brief and our doomed hero Hec (played with wit and charm by the underrated Matthew Goode) was man enough to take it all in his stride and move aside. All the corners and rough edges are smoothed away, providing a turbulence-free ride to the finish.

I think perhaps Ol Parker thought making a comedy that looked like all the others but with a lesbian twist was a bit revolutionary, and at first it is a bit disorienting being able to relate so easily to the main characters. Only, the fact that there are lesbians in the film just doesn't provide the instant scandal or sting in the tail that it used to.

Of course, I'm a bit torn here too. The lack of "coming out" angst was refreshing, but it wasn't replaced with any kind of drama, and all films need a few obstacles for the characters to jump over. A reason for us to really care. The main problem that Rachel faces here is that her husband is a really decent bloke who doesn't deserve to have his wife fall in love with someone else, lesbian or not. It just isn't quite enough.

It could be seen as a positive sign that this genre is no longer restricted to heterosexual filmmaking. It is possible to make seriously forgettable romantic mush about lesbians too. Hallelujah! I seriously do love a good RomCom, and will rave about the good ones when they come along, but this film needed just that bit more passion to even really succeed as fluffy romantic fantasy. (Of course, one could argue that a lesbian-themed film starring Piper Perabo not throwing herself from a roof in despair is in itself a step in the right direction.)

I did laugh, sometimes even real belly laughs. The hilarious moment when Luce tells Hector she's a lesbian almost made me forgive all the film's faults. Not for a moment though was I tempted to cry, and good RomComs need both ends of the emotional scale. I am however a total sucker for a happy ending, and historically-speaking the sight of two women joyfully running into each other's arms and kissing while the love song blares over the top is still rare enough a finale to cause my heart to skip several beats. That damned theme tune got stuck in my head for days.

I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for the quintessential lesbian RomCom. I wanted this movie to be great, I really did. Imagine Me & You is just... vanilla, with no strings attached, and not at all challenging. And you know, there's nothing really wrong with that, if you like that kind of thing. I found it funnier the second time around, when I wasn't expecting anything more. I did go back for a second look though, and recently a third, so that says something. Maybe I'm just biding my time waiting for the real deal to come along.

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Last updated: 21 August 2013