‘The Idea Of You’ celebrates the escapism of fangirl fantasy

Jenessa Williams delves into the boyband-themed love story that has just hit Amazon Prime


As long as pop fandom has been around, there have been crushes. Whether you’re hot for Harry, randy about Robbie or amenable to the idea of getting jiggy with JungKook, it’s perfectly natural to be attracted to your favourite singer, or to find your mind wandering to them during the more mundane moments of everyday life. Show us a music fan who hasn’t once fantasised about what it might be like to date a hot famous pop star, and we’ll show you a liar. 

This kind of giddy imagination is exactly what actor-turned-novelist Robinne Lee has tapped into. Having appeared in various movies (including two instalments of the 50 Shades Of Grey film franchise, Lee was initially inspired to write her first novel after she strumbled upon YouTube footage of a boy group whom she had declined to publically name, wondering what it might like to run away with them on tour. Initially released in 2017, ‘The Idea Of You’ became a lockdown-era hit, and has now been adapted for Amazon Prime, raking in some pretty high scores on Rotten Tomatoes. 

For those not already in the know, ‘The Idea Of You’ is themed around an unexpected meet-cute between 40-year-old mom Solène (Anne Hathaway) and 24-year-old pop star Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), member of international pop sensation August Moon. Solène isn’t technically a ‘moonhead’ herself but when she finds herself at a Coachella meet-and-greet with her teenage daughter Izzy (now more into the mature stylings of St Vincent), she finds herself falling for Hayes. A whirlwind romance ensues, and as Solène gets acquainted with the realities of dating in the public eye, she has to make some hard decisions about what she will and will not give up for love. 


‘The Idea Of You’ is not strictly a Harry Styles fanfic, but as far as some fans are concerned, it may as well be. Nicholas Galitzine’s interpretation of Hayes has the tattoos, British accent and 2009 love of droopy cardigans, as well as a patient and listening ear, encouraging Solène to open up about her divorce and the things she wants out of life. His band meanwhile, performs music that was written largely in part by Savan Kotecha and Carl Falk, known for their work on One Direction’s first two albums. It remains to be seen if August Moon can replicate the kind of success experienced by 2023’s top fictional band Daisy Jones and the Six but for any Directioners out there, there’s an extra layer of thrill in hearing so many tracks that feel eerily familiar to the ‘Up All Night’ glory years. For our money, August Moon’s ‘Taste’ is actually a bit of a banger, not entirely dissimilar in structure to Sabrina Carpenter’s mega-bop ‘Espresso’.

Whilst the script is unlikely to rake in the Oscars, Hathaway and Galitzine’s natural onscreen chemistry ensures that the fangirl fantasy is well cared for, delivered through dialogue that feels both plausible and romantic. Hathaway has spoken in the press about how she was drawn to the film due to its opportunity to portray sexuality over the age of 40, to embrace a role that felt fun and freeing and true to the idea that women don’t exclusively ‘come of age’ in their teens and early twenties. Some of the motivations and emotions of her character aren’t exactly subtle (a musing about ageing at her birthday party, feeling awkward as she hangs out with the other much younger girlfriends of the band on tour), but fair points are made about the double standards of public scrutiny, where very few eyelids are batted at celebrity men with much younger girlfriends, but women in the same position are portrayed as ‘cougars’ or irresponsible parents. 

In a post-#metoo context, certain editorial decisions have been made to ensure that Hayes and Solène’s relationship plays out on a relatively even pegging. In the book version of ‘The Idea Of You’, Hayes is 21; in the movie, he’s 24, a subtle change but one which attempts to neatly sidestep major concerns around age and consent. There’s also the matter of Solène’s impressive art career, and the gorgeous house in which she and her teenage daughter live, thriving even in the wake of Solène’s lingering vulnerability over the end of her marriage. Whilst the book is apparently pretty raunchy, the film also takes a slightly more streamlined approach to sex; bedroom scenes are detailed enough for immersion, but chaste enough to allow the viewer to slip into the fantasy of their choosing, effectively trading Hayes out for whoever floats their boat.

Cynically speaking, ‘The Idea Of You’ does have its fair share of plotholes. Is Coachella security really that lax that you could stumble into a world-famous singer’s dressing room? Would Solène’s daughter and friends really be so chill about her daughter dating a member of their once-beloved group? Who wouldn’t fancy Anne Hathaway, regardless of age? But aside from these small quibbles, what it achieves so well is that sense of good old-fashioned schmaltzy rom-com fun, the invitation to put aside your scepticism for a couple of hours and sink into the fun of no-strings, convivial fandom. ‘The Idea Of You’ is no opus or even a reckless instruction to head out to your nearest festival in the hopes of pulling that hot bassist once and for all. But it is destined to go down as a slumber party pleasure, the kind of silly, harmless fun that very few fangirls will be able to deny.