‘The Idea of You’ Changes the Book’s Ending — for the Better

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[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for the end of “The Idea of You.”]

Ask any fan about their favorite book, and they are probably a little nervous when Hollywood comes calling with that very question. Streamers are littered with book adaptations that can never live up to the world created in one’s own head.

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That’s why it’s such a treat, then, that the Anne Hathaway-starring adaptation of “The Idea of You,” which hit Prime Video on May 2, is such a steamy, fun delight that actually improves upon its source material.

It stays loyal to the book’s fantasy-driven plot: Hathaway portrays Solène, a newly-single mom of a teenager who — after meeting backstage at a concert in a pinch-me moment of serendipity — falls into a whirlwind, sex-forward romance with the lead singer of an international boy band, Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine). (Of note: The film’s screenwriters, Jennifer Westfeldt and director Michael Showalter, make the very smart choice to age up by a few years both Solène’s daughter and Hayes himself from their book versions.)

But despite the fluffy rom-com premise, in the original 2017 book by Robinne Lee, Solène and Hayes don’t end up together. After their final breakup chat — basically a version of what’s in the movie, with Solène realizing that ultimately her life, and her daughter’s, just won’t mesh with international fame — she tearfully lets him go. The novel’s final pages find Solène telling Hayes she doesn’t love him (lie) and that she just loved “the idea of [him].” Hayes texts and texts and texts, begging her to reconsider and then one day … he doesn’t anymore. He’s moved on. But we know that Solène still loves him.

Are you kidding me? I love a good tearjerker as much as the next person, but when I originally read the book, I have to admit: it felt a bit like the rug was pulled out from under me. It just didn’t feel like where the story was going, you know? I’m trying to enjoy a steamy read about two hotties overcoming all logic and sense to bang into the sunset, not ponder the difficulties of adult life and fame in the modern era.

Luckily, director Showalter agreed that the original downer ending should be readjusted.

“For me, there’s this element of this is a genre movie,” Showalter told IndieWire during a recent interview. “This is a Hollywood film. This is something that I want audiences to enjoy and have fun with, and there’s a lot of wish fulfillment here. And it’s just more fun. It’s just more satisfying to see them be together.”

Absolutely correct.

In the movie version, during the breakup scene, Hayes tells Solène to promise to call him in five years, when her daughter will be in college and things will likely be easier. The film then jumps forward five years: Solène is still happily working at her art gallery, and Hayes has moved on to a successful solo recording career.

But while appearing on a talk show, Hayes mentions he’s about to take a touring break and go to LA because there’s “someone [he] wants to see there.” Solène wonders … and then he shows up at her gallery and she bursts into happy tears, the kind that promise that love conquers all! Forever is possible! You can have great sex with a boy bander and he’ll still be madly in love with you, even years later! Now that is a Hollywood ending.

“If this was a more sort of romantic tragedy, like a ‘Howard’s End’ or something, then I would’ve been more open to the sad ending,” Showalter told IndieWire. “But I want to see them together at the end of the movie, or at least I want to feel like that’s a possibility.”

Mission: accomplished.

Additional reporting by Kate Erbland.

A Prime Video release, “The Idea of You” is streaming now.

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