Imagine Me & You
A Film Review

South AfricaBy Mandy J Watson
Posted: 20 October 2006

In the romantic comedy Imagine Me & You there's a lesbian twist to the love triangle that forms the core of the plot. That's actually all you need to know because after reading that you will already have decided whether or not you want to see the movie but if you'd like to have some reasons why you should on hand, this review will help.

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Imagine Me & You: Matthew Goode Heck and Piper Perabo as RachelThe plot of Imagine Me & You is simple, but effective: a bride (Piper Perabo) walking down the aisle to marry what she thinks is her one true love (Matthew Goode) catches the eye of the (gay) florist, a woman (Lena Headey), and it's love at first sight. The bride goes on to marry the poor groom but increasingly begins to feel that this partnership she has chosen is not the one she was destined to be in, and as fate throws the bride and florist together time and time again we are left to watch a marriage morph into a train wreck while all the affected parties try to work out their particular moral dilemmas.

Meanwhile, hilarity ensures, because this is actually a comedy (with a form of a conscience).

There are so many stand-out performances in Imagine Me & You that it's almost impossible to highlight all of them; in fact, in many ways the least interesting characters are the two leads. The characters, even the minor ones who are in place in certain scenes just to be a catalyst to a humorous moment or a dramatic turn of events, are all well written and fleshed out with their own dreams, desires, and opinions, and credit must be given to writer and director Ol Parker for managing to achieve this well-rounded universe that the characters inhabit.

Matthew Goode's endearing portrayal of Heck, the doomed husband, is one of the highlights of the movie; the character is intelligent and witty and utterly, utterly sweet and charming, which makes it even harder to watch certain scenes as you know - it's inevitable - that he's going to be crushed at some point and it just seems so unfair that he has to get hurt that you feel for him even more deeply.

Another noteworthy performance is that of Boo Jackson (in her film debut) as Rachel's younger sister "H" (which stands for Henrietta or Jesus "H" Christ, depending on whose story you prefer to believe). H is a smart, precocious kid who continually asks questions that, on the surface, seem to be about science and life's mysteries but under which lie philosophical musings that are often applicable to the moment. H is taken by Luce, who treats her as an equal and doesn't talk down to her like so many adults tend to do when confronted with kids, and she's somewhat smitten with Heck, intuitively sensing his moods and the turmoil he experiences as he realises that he's losing his emotional connection with his wife, but doesn't understand why.

A third outstanding performance is given by Anthony Head, who is probably best known for his work as Giles in the television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He plays Rachel's father - an odd, beaten-down man, who is hard to fathom. He is completely disconnected from his wife (played by Celia Imrie) and she from him. The reasons for this become apparent in a key scene late in the movie, which I found interesting from a movie-making perspective as it's unusual to see a movie utilise such eccentricities (and so well) rather than just milk them for their entertainment value.

An Arbitrary Musing (For Those That Have Seen The Movie)
There is a key scene about halfway through the movie in which Luce and Rachel part after a dramatic, emotional moment, Luce heading off to the left of the screen, down a path in a park past a lone, verdant tree (which I see as symbol for "women"), and Rachel up the path to screen right, past a lone lamppost that couldn't possibly be more phallic. Having seen this scene you either know what I'm saying or you don't, and I can't say much more without ruining it for people that haven't seen the movie, but you should look out for it because I think the styling of the shot aptly illustrates the key points of the scene that concludes at that moment. If I ever meet the director I want to ask him if this was intentional because if so I think it is rather masterful.
The lead characters, in comparison to the personalities that are allowed to shine around them, are a little bland. Lena Headey, playing an out lesbian, couldn't be less intimidating or more likeable, but she does a wonderful job in moments in which Luce's emotions are allowed to peek through the occasionally tough veneer. Luce has been unlucky in love but persuing a relationship with someone already in a relationship goes against her ethics, so she is torn by this conflict of not wanting to break up a marriage but certainly wanting one of the parties involved, which is made worse due to the fact that fate continuously conspires to throw Luce and Rachel together.

Piper Perabo's performance, meanwhile, is incredibly understated, usually in key moments, and at times it's difficult to gauge Rachel's true feelings - so much so, in fact, that, judging by a few comments and reviews that I have read, some audience members have trouble seeing how moments in certain scenes lead to moments in other scenes. The second time I watched the movie I paid more attention to her performance and you can just see the underlying conflicts (the hesitations are more apparent) but you'll miss much of this if you aren't paying close attention. This causes a rather large problem, however, as it dampens the chemistry between the two leads significantly in a number of scenes, and destroys much of the romantic aspect of what is supposed to be a romantic comedy, leaving us with just...comedy.

Imagine Me & You: Piper Perabo as Rachel and Lena Headey as LuceMeanwhile, this movie - to its credit, I believe - deftly sidesteps the "Am I gay?", "What does this mean?", "What will my family think?" internal struggles that permeate most gay-themed movies, thereby preventing the plot from spiralling downwards into doom and gloom musings. Such issues are important to explore in more dramatic pieces but they would have destroyed this movie, so it's rather pleasant (although admittedly idealistic) to have all the characters existing in a universe in which such considerations are barely relevant to anyone, bar the odd momentarily raised eyebrow.

The subject of infidelity is a tricky one to handle, especially in a romantic comedy, but the humour and lightness of the plot are never taken so far that they camouflage the dramatic undertones. The subject is dealt with seriously, with surprising complexity, and various characters are allowed to weigh in on the matter, some with perspectives that you are not expecting.

Alex Heffes' score, which is especially noticeable in the first half of the movie when it is providing an emotional segue between scenes, is beautiful and heart-warming, but it becomes totally lost in the second half of the movie and its impact is barely felt.

Imagine Me & You is British comedy at some of its finest, and most accessible to wider audiences (British humour being what it can be, that often isn't the case). The script is smart, the casting is perfect, and the performances are superb. The subject matter - both the themes of fidelity (or lack thereof) and homosexuality - is treated with dignity and respect and the result is a fresh, entertaining movie that will have you believing in love again (assuming you're a little jaded and pessimistic).

Imagine Me & You was released on circuit in South Africa today, and is already available on DVD in the US and the UK, as well as in other regions. Opinion
Rating: 7/10
Rewatchability: 6/10 (8/10 for lesbians)
When I saw the movie for the second time, about four months after I first saw it, I laughed at the jokes all over again, which I usually don't do. However, all the dramatic tension (such that there is, and perhaps that is the problem) was lost as I knew what was going to happen.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
In One Word: Charming
Haiku (For The Average Moviegoer):
Heck, you're my best friend,
but Luce has stolen my heart.
What a dilemma!

Bad Haiku (For The Lesbian Moviegoer):
There is not enough
lesbian action on screen.
Go back and film more!
Key Facts
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Year: 2005
Format: Feature; widescreen; colour
Running Time: 94 minutes (approx)
Language: English
Country: USA, UK, Germany

Piper Perabo ... Rachel
Lena Headey ... Luce
Matthew Goode ... Heck
Celia Imrie ... Tessa
Anthony Head ... Ned
Darren Boyd ... Cooper
Sue Johnston ... Ella
Boo Jackson ... H (Henrietta)
 [ full cast... ]

Ol Parker
Ol Parker
Ben Davis
Costume Design:
Consolata Boyle
Film Editing:
Alex Mackie
Original Music:
Alex Heffes
 [ full crew... ]
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