February 9, 2006

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FILM: Imagine Me & You (R)
by Amy Diaz

The British might have lost their imperial strength but they certainly are smashingly clever when it comes to producing charming little lightweight romantic comedies, as is proven again in Imagine Me & You.

Of course the Britain of a romantic comedy, be it a genuinely fun outing like Four Weddings and a Funeral or a dreary little exercise like the second Bridget Jones movie or a middling piece of entertainment like Love Actually, is no more real than the Britain of a P.G. Wodehouse novel. Everyone is sort of upper-middle lower-upper class (or, if not, they are possessing of earthy charm and special wisdom), impeccably well dressed (be it city chic or fashionable funky), everyone is outgoing and witty and secretly a bit shy and (though a bit messed up when it comes to how to manage a love relationship) ultimately good-hearted. No problem is truly insurmountable, nothing terribly terrible ever happens and, in the end, everything really does right itself. How lovely.

Tea?

The movie even begins with a joyous little squeal: Rachel (Piper Perabo) and her friends greet each other with a wordless, high-pitched happy noise and some accompanying bouncing on the day of Rachel’s wedding to Heck (Matthew Goode). He’s a decent sort and she’s a decent sort and they look like cake toppers together and so we just know things won’t end well for them (of course, it’s a British rom-com so it won’t end that badly either). Rachel’s feet might be a bit chilly about the whole deal but the rest of her is perfectly warm to the idea of marriage. As she walks down the aisle on the arm of her father (a delightfully addled Anthony Head), she spots the florist Luce (Lena Headey) having just finished her work on the church and family. Their eyes meet and meet again and even though Rachel goes on to marry Heck and Luce hangs around at the reception and is flirted on by Heck’s best man Coop (Darren Boyd), there was clearly something between the two girls.

Rachel decides that the “thing” must be a sign that they are meant to be friends. She invites Luce over to dinner along with Coop, hoping to hook them up. Though no sparks fly between Luce and the womanizing Coop, there’s all sorts of sizzle and pop between Rachel and Luce and the girls nearly kiss. They hang out again and there is more attraction. And, though she doesn’t want to, Rachel soon realizes that she’s hot for Luce, far hotter than she’s even been for Heck.

Quite a little muddle, isn’t it?

Filling out the corners of this Wodehousean scene (well, Wodehouse, maybe, by way of Helen Fielding) are a too-smart little kid, the dotty dad, a lovingly bitchy mom and wacky friends. Everyone is, of course, at the core decent so the hurdles are really problems created more by manners than by actual impediments to happiness. We see the solution to this little puzzle and root for the moment when the characters will see it and begin the chase followed by kissy resolution that will make alls well that ends well.

Tea?

Latte-foam-light and airy, Imagine Me & You is the sort of rooting-for-love-for-love’s-sake entertainment that is enjoyed and then instantly forgotten. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done in a sitcom in a dozen different variations. Unfairly, perhaps, it is saved from being insufferable almost entirely by its Britishness — the unfailing politeness that hides emotion, the sense that a pint can make all right, the blessedly unembellished plot, this realm, this England. C+

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