Rachel (Piper Parabo) and Hector (Matthew Goode) are about to be married. As Rachel walks down the aisle, though, her eyes meet those of pretty florist, Luce (Lena Headey), and it’s love at first sight in Imagine Me & You.”
You can tell that it is nearing the end of January. The filmmaking world, for the past couple of months, has been concentrating on releasing their best and jockeying for the copious award considerations. Well, the Golden Globes and critics awards are behind us with only the Oscars left to laud last year’s best. So, with the tide of the-best-of starting to ebb, the theaters are now open for what is a dumping ground of mediocre films on the entertainment starved public. Imagine Me & You” is a good example of this mediocrity.
This is being touted as a lesbian romantic comedy but Imagine Me & You” is, in fact, a generic romantic comedy (short on comedy) that, instead of two men vying for the lady, it’s a man and a woman doing the vying for (the thoroughly bland) Rachel. Piper Parabo (“Coyote Ugly” and the “Cheaper by the Dozen” franchise) is non-endearing as the fickle young woman who follows her heart despite what it does to that of her new husband, Heck. The result is that you end up caring more for the very likable and endearing Hector, played with Hugh Grant aw shucks-like tentativeness by Matthew Goode (“Match Point”), and not Rachel or her amour, Luce (played by Headey who fared far better as the capable warrior femme role model in “The Brothers Grimm”).
One big problem I have with “Imagine Me & You” is the lack of chemistry between the leads. It’s a telling point, in a film, when you care more about and would rather watch the supporting characters than the stars. Case in point is Goode as the cuckolded Heck and Darren Boyd as Heck’s best friend, Coop, a charming womanizer who cares deeply for his buddy, showing moral conviction when his friend’s happiness is at stake. Rachel’s mother and father, Tessa and Ned (Celia Imrie and Anthony Head), show more depth of character right away with Head channeling Brit actor Bill Nighy’s stammering style. Both are more engaging than their “daughter.”
Imagine Me & You” mines nothing new with its generic love story and new millennium political correctness where a gay (albeit lesbian) relationship is mainstream film fare. The title song by the Lovin Spoonful (over credits) or Matthew Goode and the capable supporting cast can’t save this film from its bland mediocrity. I give it a C-.
As she makes her way up the aisle to marry her best friend and long time lover Hector (Matthew Goode, "Match Point"), Rachel (Piper Perabo, "The Cave," "Cheaper by the Dozen 2") spies a strange woman and is struck by a thunderbolt she at first does not recognize. Luce (Lena Headey, "The Cave," "The Brothers Grimm"), her floral provider, sticks around for the reception and Rachel strikes up a friendship, telling Heck that Luce is one of those people you meet and feel an instant bond with. Only problem is, Luce is a lesbian and Rachel feels more than friendship in "Imagine Me & You."
Writer/director Ol Parker ploughs familiar 'you can't control cupid's arrow' terrain, setting up the perfect heterosexual couple only to fell them with a lesbian lover. This romantic comedy strains its laughs after breaking one of its most endearing character's hearts, and the couple we should be rooting for never gain traction after meeting under thoroughly gimmicky screenwriting scenarios. Still, Goode's good nature and a fine troupe of supporting players and the minor diversion of London locations make "Imagine Me & You" a fairly pleasurable outing.
After asking us to swallow the florist as uninvited reception guest oddity, we are forced to endure the silly gyrations of a flirtatious conspiracy retrieving a wedding ring that's fallen into the punch bowl (just how does one accomplish that feat to begin with?). As one of her first married social acts, Rachel marches down to Luce's flower store and invites her to dinner. Of course, Rachel does not yet know that Luce is a lesbian and she and Heck have also invited his player best man, Coop (Darren Boyd, "High Heels and Low Lifes"). Luce brings Rachel's favorite flowers (which we later learn mean 'Dare to love me') and Heck is the first to find out her sexual proclivity. Coop is undeterred and he and Luce form an amusing friendship. But when Heck fobs off Rachel and her spare football ticket on Luce because of an emergency at work, the two women's 'date' throws off sparks and even though Rachel tries to do the right thing, her new marriage is doomed. Supportive families of both girls give cupid an assist, a surprising reaction from Ned (Anthony Head, TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Tessa (Celia Imrie, "Calendar Girls," "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason") in particular seeing as how they've only just thrown their daughter a wedding.
While Parker writes some good dialogue, his situations need work. The flower shop as shrink office is a nice idea, although it seems familiar from last year's "Apres Vous." He does get some fine work from his actors, though, with newcomer Boo Jackson making a big impression as Rachel's small sister Henrietta, called 'H' (for 'Jesus H. Christ,' which is what her mother said when she found out she was having her' she states matter-of-factly). Also terrific is the little known Boyd, great comic sidekick with superb timing. Anthony Head offers up a wonderfully twisted take on Rachel's dad, bumbling through life in a good-natured alcoholic haze of low self esteem brought about by his perception of his wife's regard for him. She would be Imrie, tart-tongued with a soft center. Sue Johnston ("Brassed Off") is Luce's lonely hearts mother who is nudged back to life by her daughter. And Heady is fine in scenes with Boyd and Johnston, just as Perabo seems natural with Goode - the duo just don't generate enough heat together leaving us feeling that Rachel's making a big mistake and Luce is a selfish home wrecker. Goode is left with one well-played last scene with Jackson, but there's little joy in the big conclusive 'Happy Together' reunion.
Naming a film after a song generally displays a lack of imagination. "Imagine Me & You" has enough good moments to keep it afloat.
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