Imagine Me & You
July 14, 2006
Imagine Me & You (2005) is a British romantic comedy done in the tradition of a Richard Curtis film but not quite as in-your-face about it. This movie is much more subtle as its director Ol Parker demonstrates a deft touch for light comedy. Unlike Curtis’ mega-productions with their marquee names, this movie features a who’s who of BBC character actors featuring people from shows like Coupling, Waking the Dead and Manchild to name but a few.
Rachel (Perabo) is getting married and on her way to the altar she spots a woman (Headey) for only an instant but it is enough time for them to make a connection. At the reception, they meet again and share a moment together as Rachel looks for her wedding ring in the punch bowl. When her husband, Hector (Goode), is unable to make a speech at the reception she steps up and saves the day.
Rachel feels instantly drawn to this woman, known as Luce, in a way that she can’t quite explain and the film nails that breathless feeling of intense, immediate attraction that one feels when they meet someone that totally captivates and enthralls them. Naturally, Rachel and Luce become friends and she and her husband end up trying to set up Luce with Hector’s best friend, Coop (Boyd).
Rachel finds out that Luce is a lesbian and it makes her question her growing attraction to the woman. They bond while attending a football match and learn to relax around each other. Rachel loves her husband but it doesn’t have the spark that she feels when she’s around Luce. Hector is a nice enough guy but after a little while things become routine as their relationship lacks heat and passion. They have a nice home, lots of friends and supportive parents but something is missing.
Parker conveys their gradual drifting apart in the actual physical space between them. Rachel and Hector are married but they don’t really know each other. Hector’s not a bad guy and Matthew Goode wisely doesn’t play him as such. He just wants to re-ignite the passion in his relationship with Rachel and even blames himself for the lack thereof in their relationship, making him something of a sympathetic character.
Imagine Me & You is filled with the usual quirky characters one finds in these kinds of British rom-coms. At first, Coop seems like the typical lecherous best friend but in a scene where he has a drink with Luce another layer of his character is revealed. It is a small but well done moment.
At one point during the film, Rachel and Luce argue over dinner about the notion of love at first sight. Luce believes in it but Rachel isn’t so sure. It could be the film’s central theme: does love at first sight really exist and how do you know when it happens? Or is it like the old adage, if you have to explain it than you don’t know it?
Piper Perabo, known mostly for her role in the truly awful Coyote Ugly (2000) but has since gone on to make smaller, more interesting films like Lost and Delirious (2001), is good looking in a Keira Knightley sort of way. She delivers a strong performance that is, at times, heartbreaking as her character tries to figure out what she wants and who she wants to be with. Perabo has undeniable chemistry with Lena Headey as their characters’ growing attraction to one another plays out in a believable fashion.
Ultimately, Imagine Me & You is a less contrite and contrived version of a Richard Curtis movie. Parker does a fine job playing out Rachel’s conflict – torn between her dependable husband and the passionate Luce. This is a well-acted, well written movie about the complexities of falling in love with someone you can’t have. Imagine Me & You explores the emotions of its characters in a mature and believable way without dumbing it down or through manufactured plot devices. The film shows how easy relationships can get messy and how you need to follow your heart which is the only way to be truly happy.
There is an audio commentary by writer/director Ol Parker. The original title was Click in reference to a French term but Parker admits (with more than a trace of bitterness) that Adam Sandler had a movie coming out with the same title and more money so he had to change it. The filmmaker talks about the things he’d do differently if he gets to make another movie. He also criticizes his own writing and is quick to blame himself for the film’s shortcomings. Parker even apologizes for a lot of things in the film that he sees as mistakes. I mean, c’mon, the film isn’t that bad! This is an okay track but this poor guy lacks any kind of self-confidence.
“Director’s Statement.” Parker was asked to write this manifesto, of sorts, for his movie. He talks about how he met and fell in love with his wife and how that inspired this movie.
Included are five deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Parker. He puts this footage in context of the film and explains why it was cut. This footage attempted to flesh out some of the relationships between characters but didn’t work.
Finally, there is a “Q&A with Director and Cast” which features them sitting down for slightly above standard promo questions (i.e. talking about their characters, what the film is about, the whole lesbian angle, etc.) that are actually pretty intelligent for these kinds of things. Parker comes off as earnest while Perabo and Headey are giggly and a bit silly. Goode admires the depth of his character and how he is not portrayed as the “bad guy” of the film.