Imagine Me & You
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Imagine Me & You

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Over the decades there have been many incarnations of the romantic comedy. It seems that just when you think that just about every permutation has been displayed along comes am film that tries to give a novel twist on a classic theme of love. ‘Imagine Me & You’ attempts this by adding a different slant. There is the typical boy proposes to girl and the girl finds her true love just before the marriage but here the paramour is another woman. Rachel (Piper Perabo) and Hector (Matthew Goode) have been living in London and dating for a long time, long enough that friends and family naturally begin to wonder when the big day will come. The get engaged and on the surface they appear to be a very happy couple. The happy day comes and as Rachael is walking down the aisle with her dad, Ned (Anthony Head), she glances over to the crowd and locks eyes with a pretty young woman. It turns out that she is the florist Luce (Lena Headey) hired by Rachael’s mom Tessa (Celia Imrie). Rachael and Luce encounter each other at the reception when Rachael accidentally drops her wedding ring in the punch and Luce plunges her hand into the bowl to retrieve it. As the world goes in romantic comedies Heck’s best friend Cooper (Darren Boyd) is interested in Luce and the new couple tries to play match maker by setting them up on a date. Heck discovers that the match up will not work because Luce is gay and Cooper is not exactly her type, i.e. a man. Cooper is not put off by this little fact at all. Actually find finds it a challenge to win over a lesbian. Meanwhile back with the newlyweds Heck finds that the post nuptial passion is far from his expectation. Rachael seems to be losing interest in marital relations. She is constantly thinking about Luce and the affect on her love life with Heck is pronounced. Rachael’s feelings for Luce are reciprocated but it places Luce in a moral quagmire. While Luce loves Rachael she does not want to be the other woman that destroys a very young marriage. Luce is an intelligent and sensitive young woman. Although she can match the right flowers to the emotional state of a customer she is unable to work out her romantic dilemma. Luce is used to short term relationships but if she goes for Rachael she knows it has to be a commitment. Rachael is very confused. She never considered herself gay but she can’t get Luce out of her thoughts. Her relationship with Heck grew over the years but with Luce the feeling was love at first sight. While Rachael has recently made what should be a life long commitment to Heck she can’t refute her feelings for Luce. Her parents are at the stage in life where they are pushing for grandchildren and in this variation of reality falling in love with a lesbian would seem to preclude that goal. I guest in this universe same gender adoption never really caught on. Unaware of the actual cause of his wife’s change in emotional state Heck goes to Luce to ask her advice. When Luce tells him to just ask his wife Heck shows some true emotions when he confesses that he is afraid that there really is something dreadfully wrong with his new marriage. He loves Rachael ad feels helpless to control or even deal with her changes. They have known each other since childhood, everyone always assumed that they would wind up together but now Heck and Rachael have emotionally disconnected on a very important level. Added to this Heck’s job is bringing an inordinate amount of pressure on him. His new job at a brokerage house he finds he has to lie to his customers to close the deal.

This film does represent a new twist on a venerable genre it does have its shortcomings. The plot is a bit too dense for a light romantic comedy. For example the central love affair has ramifications beyond the couple. Luce’s mother, Ella (Sue Johnston) is flighty but becomes so affected by her daughter’s plight that she begins to clean up her act and tries to form a real relationship. Then there is the infatuation that Cooper has with Luce. A heterosexual man wining over a lesbian may be a fantasy of many men but it only served here to splinter the flow of the film. It was a cute little touch to juxtapose the feelings that Cooper and Rachael have for Luce but it may have been better to just focus more on Rachael and Luce. The running gag here is how Luce can match flowers to people. This gives her flower shop more screen time than was absolutely necessary. Rachael seems to have a subliminal feeling that Luce is gay. At first sight she is willing to not only threaten her minute long marriage but completely change her sexual orientation. I suppose that such emotional conveniences are part and parcel to the genre but the gay twist tends to strain credibility more than most flicks of this nature.

Some aspects of the film work well, such as the casting. Piper Perabo is one of those actresses that may be beautiful but also has a natural comic timing. She has a face that can melt hearts of both genders and a moment later make you laugh. This is not her first foray into a gay relationship. To she a more dramatic variation get a copy of Lost and Delirious to see one of Perabo’s best performances to date. Perabo is able to use physical humor in classic fashion. She has the pratfall and goofiness down part. For a Jersey girl she even manages a passable English accent. Lena Headey is also excellent as Luce. She gives more dimension to her character than expected. Her Luce is a multidimensional woman that is gay but not defined solely by her sexuality. Luce has a sense of morality, feelings of uncertainty and is not just guided by emotions or lust. Matthew Goode also infuses some life into Heck. Instead of playing him only as the victim caught in this unusual love triangle the film addresses he emotional reaction to this and the other major changes in life. The older generation is not so well represented. It seems that Celia Imrie was given direction to be the typical English proper mum. There is little here for her to actual mold. Anthony Head is a fantastic character actor with credits such as Silence of the Lambs and TV’s Boston Public on his resume. He usually plays the uptight, almost compulsive person and here is not really given much else to do.

This is the freshman directorial effort for Ol Parker and he does amazingly well. This genre is extremely sensitive to timing and Parker has a good sense of it. The pacing is quicker than most romantic comedies but it does manage to pack a lot of different sub plots into the mix. Once again it should be noted that there is almost too much going on here. With a film like this less is often better. The audience has to be able to lose themselves in the premise but the side plots do little to permit this.

Fox presents this film on DVD with a touch of flair. First of all they return to something that was more common at the start of the DVD age, the flipper. Instead of having separate Pan & Scan and widescreen versions one side has the full screen variation, the other side the widescreen. Most will stick to the original aspect ratio but it was nice of Fox to offer both on one disc instead of making two releases out of it. The anamorphic 2.35:1 video is exceptionally bright and crisp. The color palette is natural and well done. The contrast is near perfect. The Dolby 5.1 audio well balanced and makes good use of all speakers. The audio commentary by Parker is better than most first time directors. Instead of bragging about how he over came so many difficulties to make the film he freely points out his mistakes and what he would have done differently. There are four deleted scenes that can be viewed with or without an introduction by Parker. There is also an interesting question and answer section featuring Parker, Perabo, Headey and Goode. They go into more details than the usual press junket permits. Over all the film is flawed, a bit pedantic and predicable. Still, it has its moments and is worth a watch. While this is not going to wind up on any best of lists issued by the AFI it will bring a laugh to your face.

Posted 6/24/06

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