Harry Styles Gets His Own ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ in ‘The Idea of You’

The Daily Beast/Amazon MGM
The Daily Beast/Amazon MGM

Welcome to modern rom-com week at The Daily Beast’s Obsessed! In honor of two big romance releases this week—The Fall Guy and The Idea of You—we’re celebrating everything we love about the last 15 years of romantic comedies.

Every moment of The Idea of You feels like the first day of summer vacation: dreamy, sun-soaked, and unbelievably horny, if you have an…adult taste in getaways. In watching the steamy new romance, we are living vicariously through someone who has achieved every teenage girl’s fantasy—sleeping with the world’s biggest, hottest celeb. In this case, the A-lister is Harry Styles at the peak of his One Direction fame—or at least, the lead love interest is loosely inspired by him. Swoon. That’s the ideal life.

Based on Robinne Lee’s spicy 2017 novel of the same name, The Idea of You (May 2, Prime Video) starts out with a sunny desert getaway in Coachella. Solène (Anne Hathaway), the 40-year-old mother of Izzy (Ella Rubin), is tasked with taking her teenage daughter and their friends to the music festival when she quite literally stumbles into the headlining act. Trying to find an open, clean restroom—quite the feat at Coachella—Solène accidentally finds herself in Hayes Campbell’s (Nicholas Galitzine) trailer. Oh. My. God.

Wait, you don’t know Hayes Campbell? The Hayes Campbell? As in, 24-year-old frontman for August Moon, dreamboat and womanizer extraordinaire? Yeah, that’s him. After five minutes in his trailer, Solène is smitten—but Hayes even more so. The connection is instant. We feel it as much as the characters do. They lock eyes again at a VIP ticket holders meet-and-greet; then, Hayes is on the Coachella mainstage singing odes to a woman he just met. “I know that you’re a little bit older,” Hayes croons, “but baby, rest your head on my shoulder.” We can guess who that’s about!

Nicholas Galitzine in 'The Idea of You

Nicholas Galitzine as Hayes Campbell.

Alisha Wetherill/Amazon MGM

Hayes is a perfect Harry Styles-type figure, oozing charisma with a faint whisper of something mysterious lurking beneath those shiny green eyes. So too are his August Moon bandmates (One Direction reincarnate), who perfectly recreate the simple, gyrating dance moves that fans went gaga over back in the early 2010s. August Moon really feels like a lived-in boy band, similar to 4*Town in Turning Red—it’s all kind of tongue-in-cheek, but The Idea of You is laughing with boy bands instead of at them. The songs, too, are the same kind of “stuck in your head all day” as 1D hits. This makes sense, considering they’re written by Savan Kotecha, who famously helped pen “What Makes You Beautiful.”

But that’s enough about August Moon, who only appears during that fateful Coachella show and occasional cutaways to future stadium shows. The real headliners here are Hayes and Solène, who, not long after Coachella, begin a freewheeling fling around the world. It starts in Los Angeles, where Hayes tracks down (cute, not stalker-y, I swear) Solène’s art gallery and buys every single piece for sale. After Hayes follows Solène home, brushes his fingertips against hers on the piano, and presses her against said piano while making out with her, Solène is all-in. Izzy is sent to summer camp, and Solène flies out to New York in the most see-through white dress ever seen, a garment practically made for the always stunning Hathaway.

The Idea of You may, at first, appear like the run-of-the-mill streaming romance movie—guess again. The film does possess some of those cheesy, simple qualities, like a gonzo premise and a handful of hokey dialogue. But this isn’t a copy-paste, low-budget romantic comedy; this stand-out is the most pleasant surprise since 2018’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. That’s mostly thanks to the buoyant chemistry between Galitzine and Hathaway, who smartly swap quirky rom-com dialogue to create an intense, remarkable connection. The Idea of You goes above and beyond with its source material.

All 34 Modern Studio Rom-Coms, Ranked

Then, the jet-setting begins—and, oh, is it marvelous. What’s better than watching beautiful people fall in love and have steamy, passionate sex on screen? Why, imagine them doing it in Rome! In Paris! On a damn yacht! In these scenes, Michael Showalter’s direction really shines, giving picturesque, exciting backdrops to Galitzine and Hathaway’s electric chemistry. The Idea of You is a glossy travel movie as much as it is a romance.

The Idea of You could, however, benefit from just a tad more on the steamy side. Some of the novel’s juiciest scenes—which made the book such a hit—are removed from the film’s plot. But instead of adding more intense scenes that involve sex, arguments, and the real grit of the relationship, Showalter and co-screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt’s version of Hayes and Solène’s story opts to make everything a little more surface-level, relying on dialogue and the occasional makeout sesh instead of deepening the relationship with more intimacy. The sex scenes are delectable when they actually happen, but they’re somewhat shockingly sparse.

But that’s quite alright, because watching Hathaway giggle at her phone screen, beaming at texts from her 24-year-old loverboy, is hot enough as it is. Solène’s character is paid the utmost respect in Showalter’s adaptation, and it’s a role that Hathaway was born to play. Yes, The Idea of You is a love story, but it’s also a meditation on how society tends to have little respect for women over the age of 35, especially mothers. Expanding upon the book’s themes, The Idea of You is ripe for further analysis—be it on art as a product for consumerism, the not-so private lives of celebrities, and society’s obsession with critiquing mothers. Although the film is first and foremost a romance, the love story serves as a vehicle to examine several thought-provoking topics.

"Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in 'The Idea of You'

Hayes and Solène are a dreamy couple.

Alisha Wetherill

When it comes to book adaptations, The Idea of You is one of the finest in recent memory. Not only that, but the film is one of the best streaming romances of all time, thanks to a gleaming story and multiple gorgeous settings. Hathaway cements her status as a star capable of leading any genre; Galitzine proves he’s the up-and-coming heartthrob of the 2020s. The Idea of You is the perfect glitzy, splashy movie that this story about a glamorous whirlwind love affair deserves. And no spoilers, of course—but even the novel’s controversial ending gets its own dazzling Hollywood twist. The film’s take may diverge from the novel, but it’s those differences that make the film so memorable.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.