Imagine Me & You (United Kingdom/Germany, 2005)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Romantic comedies don't get more generic than this one. Imagine Me & You (beware movies that borrow their titles from pop songs…) follows the established formula with only one Sapphic deviation - the romantic leads are both female. But, for all the that script explores the societal and cultural repercussions of this, they might as well be a man and a woman. The lesbian nature of the relationship seems designed for no purpose other than to spice things up, but it doesn't work. Imagine Me & You isn't unpleasant, but it is unremarkable. If nothing else, it proves that gay romances can be just as uninspired as their heterosexual counterparts.

The two future lovers meet at a wedding. Luce (Lena Headey) is the florist, and Rachel (Piper Perabo, appearing in her second lesbian romance) is the bride. Their fates are sealed with a look. For a while, they play at being "just friends," but Luce's admission that she's a lesbian raises the ante, and Rachel's growing emotional distance from her husband, Heck (Mattthew Goode, who can currently be seen as Tom in Match Point), is symptomatic of a mismatch. The women grapple with the forces that seek to pull them apart and the attraction that pushes them together until the expectedly happy ending resolves everything. (Warning: some viewers may experience sugar shock during Imagine Me & You's climactic scene, which appears to have been borrowed to some degree from Crocodile Dundee.)

I was hoping for a little more Kissing Jessica Stein and a little less Romantic Comedy 101 from writer/director Ol Parker's debut feature, but Imagine Me & You shies away from doing anything daring, offensive, or interesting. The PG sex scenes (in an R-rated movie that earns its citation because of one too many uses of the f-word) are so tame that it's hard to imagine anyone being disturbed (or turned on). And, while Perabo and Headey (an underrated actress who deserves better roles) do a good job of inhabiting their characters, there's no heat in their interaction. It's easy enough to accept these two as best friends, but the "lover" label is incongruous given the nature of their on-screen chemistry.

The screenplay boasts a few biting one liners, most of which are delivered by Heck. This is Matthew Goode's consolation prize for playing the guy who comes out on the short end of the stick. To the film's credit, he isn't presented as a cretin or an annoyance. He's a sympathetic guy, and the movie's best scene is a quiet one in which he engages in a rooftop discussion with Rachel's younger sister, Beth (Sharon Horgan). There are also the obligatory wacko parents (Celia Imrie, Anthony Head), who start out as impediments but end up providing support and valuable advice.

There's can be a benefit to the familiarity in most romantic comedies, but that assumes all of the elements are done well. The problem with Imagine Me & You is that the romance lacks the intensity that adherents of the genre appreciate. We have to fall in love with the characters as they fall in love with each other, and become invested in the success of their relationship. That doesn't happen as well as it might in Imagine Me & You, and it makes the happy ending feel forced. There's nothing terribly wrong with the movie, but there's also nothing that would make this a stand-out for either straight or gay audiences.

Imagine Me & You (United Kingdom/Germany, 2005)

Director: Ol Parker
Cast: Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, Anthony Head, Celia Imrie, Sharon Horgan
Screenplay: Ol Parker
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Music: Alex Heffes
U.S. Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Run Time: 1:34
U.S. Release Date: 2006-01-27
MPAA Rating: "R" (Sexual Situations, Profanity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1