Anne Hathaway The Idea of You Movie: Why It Matters

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FYI Hollywood, women over 40 are hot *and* worthy of screen time. Just look to ‘The Idea of You’ for proof.

When you think coming-of-age movies, chances are your mind flashes to the usual suspects: Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, Juno, Mona Lisa Smile, Dead Poet’s Society and (my personal fave) Someone Great. They’re all highly entertaining films starring talent often at the beginning of their careers, playing characters who are slowly but surely coming into their own over the course of the movie.

Something else all these films have in common? The character experiencing this monumental personal growth, whether it’s falling in love with their hometown or figuring out that life after eighth grade does get better, are always young — in their teens or early 20s, to be exact. In many ways it makes sense. These early years are when a lot of people make some of their biggest, and most formative mistakes, with the implicit permission to do so. The idea being that the older you get, of course the wiser you are, and that by the time you’re out of your twenties you’re supposed to have your life entirely figured out.

You’re an adult, so you’re done growing, right?

Not quite. As any 30-year-old who’s lived on this planet will tell you, this movie fantasy is far from reality. (Me having my sh*t together? In this economy?! No way). Which is what makes Anne Hathaway’s latest movie, The Idea of You, so refreshing. Adapted from writer Robinne Lee’s 2017 book of the same name and inspired by Harry Styles, the Prime Video movie follows Hathaway’s character Solène, a 40-year-old mom and gallery owner, as she embarks on a romantic relationship with 24-year-old music heartthrob Hayes Campbell (played by the incredibly hunky and bedroom-eyed Nicholas Galitzine).

It’s a tale as old as time: Girl meets boy at Coachella (where she happens to be with her 16-year-old daughter), girl and boy fall in love, girl doubts herself and her ability to love, girl messes up her chance at happiness, girl realizes she has a lot to offer and can make decisions for her own life, and eventually….well, you know the rest. The only difference is that, in this scenario, girl just happens to be in her 40s. It’s hot, it’s steamy (I mean look at the material they’re working with?!), and it’s realistic (aside from the whole popstar romance, of course), but it’s also something we rarely see on-screen.

That said, women over the age of 30 haven’t been entirely overlooked recently. The past several years we’ve witnessed a rise of romcoms, adventures and coming-of-age stories for women *of a certain age,* with films like Book Club, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande and Hello, My Name Is Doris featuring actresses like 78-year-old Diane Keaton, 64-year-old Emma Thompson and 77-year-old Sally Field as characters who find themselves later in life.

The 2023 awards season also saw a slew of women over the age of 60, including Jennifer Coolidge, Michelle Yeoh, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jamie Lee Curtis and Angela Bassett, take home awards for their work on screen. And while not all of the projects recognized were coming-of-age films and TV shows, per se, at least when it came to awards recognition, there was a visible uptick in stories about older women and their unique experiences, which is 100 per cent worth celebrating. But despite this, there remains a dearth of movies and TV shows about women in the in-between, not quite 30 but not yet getting the seniors discount at the movies.

Which is where The Idea of You comes in. This new perspective on the coming-of-age story is what drew Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway to the project. Speaking to media at the SXSW premiere of the film on March 16, the 41-year-old actress said of her decision: “For some reason, we talk about coming-of-age stories as being something that happens to you in the earliest part of your life, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I keep blooming.” 

The idea that we continue to grow and bloom as we age is an important one, allowing people the grace to continue making mistakes, learning and most of all changing. It’s an especially important statement — and story — given the fact that women’s stories are so often either relegated to the background or confined to one dimensional characters, both in the movies and IRL, as they age.

Solène herself struggles with the idea of seeing herself as a mother and someone who is worthy of a rompy, lustful love. Centering this story as fun, campy and potentially outrageous as it may initially seem is validating, emphasizing that not only do women continue to evolve as they age, existing as more than just one version of themselves, but also that this growth is valid and important to see. Life doesn’t end when you hit 30, 35, 40, 50 or even 85.

Not to mention, this growth is hot *and* entirely marketable. If film execs are worried about movies about “older” women not being a hot ticket item, Hathaway’s film should quell those fears. The first trailer for the film, released in early March, has already broken records, racking up 125 million views in the days after its release and becoming the most-watched trailer of any original streaming movie. And, the film currently has a 100 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Early reviews of the film (available to stream on Prime Video starting May 2) are raving, and Galitzine and Hathaway’s movie — originally written off as a Harry Styles fanfic — is being heralded as the true return of the romcom genre and “shatters tropes about motherhood and binary choices.” FYI Hollywood, moms — and women — over the age of 40 are hot, and it’s about time they get their recognition.

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