Coming hot on the heels of the far superior Brokeback Mountain, it seems unlikely Imagine Me & You ever had much chance of success – the only thing that differentiates it from any other romantic comedy is the romance is between two people of the same sex (shock, horror!). It appears likely that was felt to be enough, but the lack of anything original leaves it disappointing at best.
Piper Perabo (Rachel) seems stuck in the same rut as Reese Witherspoon before her… forever the sweet-as-pie romantic lead in films such as Coyote Ugly, Perfect Opposites (A Piece of My Heart), and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Here she appears, yet again, as the good-natured, do-the-right-thing girl, determined to make the lives of both her and her husband perfect, but she is thwarted by a love at first sight that comes upon her, of all times, as she is walking down the aisle!
Sporting an English accent that is actually rather good, Perabo is her charming, adorable self, but one wonders if she is getting tired of playing this role. Thankfully, she is countered by Lena Headey as Luce, whose presence creates such havoc in the settled lives of the central couple – Headey is excellent, showing just enough charisma but also the internal conflict that her feelings for an unobtainable woman must cause. Headey is not only beautiful, she steals most every scene she is in, her performance the standout amongst so much more of the same.
The truly disappointing part of Imagine Me & You, is that when you remove the ‘issue’ that the same sex ‘twist’ creates for the leads, there really isn’t too much left to this tale; the remainder is (sub)standard romcom fare. The central question in any romantic comedy is ‘How will they end up together, in spite of everything seemingly preventing it?’, but Imagine Me & You sidesteps that question, offering up only an unlikely happy ending that seems as unrealistic as it is cheery. Sure, everyone is happy, of course they are; no-one ever gets hurt in a real-life drama of this nature.
Imagine Me & You is also either quite misguided or rather dishonest – the problem of Rachel and Luce being of the same sex is alluded to by Rachel’s mother, (who delivers a few horrified ‘my daughter isn’t a lesbian’ lines), but dismissed readily in favour of the happy ending. Either writer/director Ol Parker felt this to be an issue or he didn’t – if not, and he was trying to make the point that an attraction between a same-sex couple should be seen as just as romantic as one between a man and a woman would, (and, in other words, unremarkable of itself), why introduce what are essentially throw-away moments questioning that fact? (The customer in the florist shop is a good example.) If, on the other hand, the fact they are of the same gender is important in Parker’s view, why does he deal so poorly with it? He can’t have it both ways…
The relationship building phase in the first half of Imagine Me & You is quite charming, and contains some great scene ideas – the supermarket scene is amusing, and the schmaltz of the romance between Rachel and Luce is just enough to make this unabashed romcom fan smile – it is really the disappointing third act that lets it down. Had the issues that a love triangle creates, (irrespective of the gender pairings within it), been more maturely dealt with, the film may have been more successful.Rating: