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USG Movie Reviews: The Idea of You

A bag of popcorn before a movie theatre screen.
"The Idea of You" pre-screening at the Garden Theater.
Jessica Wang / The Daily Princetonian

The Amazon Prime movie “The Idea of You” is best known for its origin story — the narrative is thought to be based on fanfiction about Harry Styles. Pre-screened by USG Movies at the Princeton Garden Theater at 9:45 p.m. on Apr. 18, the film takes its premise and plot from a 2017 book of the same name written by American author and actress Robinne Lee. While Lee has never publicly mentioned “fanfiction” and “Harry Styles” as the inspiration for the book, she admitted that the fictional leading man, Hayes Campbell, was her vision of a “dream guy,” partially derived from Prince Harry, Harry Styles, Eddie Redmayne, an ex-boyfriend, and her own husband.

Marketed as a rom-com, the movie is a guilty pleasure love story created by women for women. Anne Hathaway leads as 40-year-old single mom and divorcée named Solène Marchand who, at the twilight of her love life, incidentally meets heartthrob boy band lead singer Hayes Campbell at Coachella, sparking a whirlwind romance. Nicholas Galitzine stars opposite Hathaway as the 24-year-old British celebrity.


USG Movies opened pre-screening registration for the movie showing on MyPrincetonU on Tuesday with a cap of 200 registrants. More than 190 students had registered by Thursday. With instructions to arrive early, the movie showing attracted a line well past Art@Bainbridge by 9:30 p.m.

At just one hour and 57 minutes, the film was a light and entertaining watch. The plot follows a predictable arc: The conspicuous age gap between Solène and Hayes creates tension in the lovers’ clandestine romance. At 41 and 29 respectively, Hathaway and Galitzine actually act close to their real-life ages — rare for a rom-com. The unconventional romantic pairing drew mixed responses from the audience. When Solène finally embraces her femininity and sexuality in an R-rated hotel scene, half of the audience winced while half of the audience cheered.

Once the budding romance is inevitably leaked to the press and paparazzi, insults fly. The movie alludes to the harmful effects of social media and sensationalization as headlines brand Solène as a “cougar.” While I wanted to see more exploration of the double standard applied to Solène’s femininity, the movie avoids showing the deeper emotional impact of these judgments. Beyond brushing away paparazzi like flies, Solène is only mildly affected. She is a mature grown woman, the movie seems to imply, so she can take care of herself. 

Altogether, Solène navigates rocky relationships with Hayes, her ex-husband, and her teenage daughter Izzy. The on-and-off-again leading romance delivers mild whiplash, but overall, I didn’t mind the plot. Hathaway and Galitzine have convincing on-screen chemistry, with Galitzine charming his way through every scene as the picture-perfect celebrity pretty boy. Given his past roles as impeccably groomed, annoyingly handsome princes in “Cinderella” and “Red, White, and Royal Blue,” it’s not hard to imagine him as a pop star prince.

With Solène, Hayes is loyal, forgiving, and adoring. In fact, one of my only quibbles with his character was that he seemed too good to be true. For a high-profile tattooed young celebrity, he had astonishingly few personal issues: his parents out of the picture, his relationship with the paparazzi and the press minimal, and his manager nowhere in sight. Lee wrote him as a dream guy, and he is just that — a golden boy with no strings attached. His apparent easygoing nature allows Solène to take center stage, and the movie focuses instead on her journey balancing career, family, and her own desire for romance.

The movie features astonishingly catchy original songs from Hayes’s fictional band August Moon, one of which was penned by the same writers who brought us One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” Galitzine showcases his musical chops on stage multiple times, and the 2010s dance choreography from the boy band made the movie an amusing throwback. 


A critic looking to rate the movie need look no further than the audience at the Garden Theater, which was lively and loving it for the full two hours. What would have been a guilty pleasure became shared revelry: We laughed, joked, swooned, and even giggled at Galitzine’s multiple gratuitous shirtless scenes. Even at the movie’s most solemn scene, when Solène recounts her past heartbreak, the theater went respectfully quiet for just a fleeting moment before Hayes’ macho insults against her ex-husband broke the ice. “The Idea of You” has enough comedy for all, and watching the advance screening for the first time and laughing with friends made the showing more than worth it.

“The Idea of You” will be released on Amazon Prime for public streaming on May 2, 2024.

Jessica Wang is a member of the Class of 2026 and a staff writer for the Prospect at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at[at]

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