Imagine Me and You (Fox Searchlight, R)

To its credit, Imagine Me and You focuses just as much on the death of love between two people as it does on the pain and euphoria of a new romance.

 

 

Gay romance is in.

It’s not that homosexuality in mainstream films is something new. For over a decade now, audiences have been regaled with movies about gays, from Australian drag queens to gay cabaret owners to marginalized AIDS patients. Most of these movies have focused on the film studios’ notion of “the gay lifestyle,” made palatable to straight audiences largely through, on the one hand, the cartoonish, over-the-top antics of their gay characters, or, on the other, the universal tragedies of suffering and discrimination. Although the essence of real-life homosexuality can be boiled down to a distinction in who one loves, movies have been slow to depict simple, genuine romance between gays.

Until now.

Following on the heels of the much ballyhooed Brokeback Mountain comes a new British film about gay love called Imagine Me and You. Just as Rachel (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly) is walking down the aisle to marry her longtime best friend Hector (Matthew Goode, Match Point), she catches the eye a beautiful stranger named Luce (Lena Headey). In this chance encounter Rachel feels a tiny shock that, over the course of the movie, precipitates a full-fledged avalanche, sending Rachel’s carefully constructed assumptions about life and love crashing down.

Stirred by an emotion she chooses not to examine, Rachel befriends the lesbian Luce; as their friendship grows, Rachel finds herself grappling with feelings that become harder and harder to ignore. Meanwhile, her relationship with Hector begins to cool, leaving him bewildered by the growing distance between the two of them. Sensing his pain, Rachel redoubles her efforts to repress her growing desire for Luce. But if Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that there is no stopping true love.

To its credit, Imagine Me and You focuses just as much on the death of love between two people as it does on the pain and euphoria of a new romance. For a romantic comedy, the film pays unusually close attention to the internal struggle of its conflicted protagonist, admitting that all may not be fair in love and war after all. But aside from the gender of its lovers, don’t expect too many departures from the usual formula in this movie. As in most romance flicks, all complications are happily resolved by film’s end, with each of the characters—including old people, children, and cuckolded husbands—finding the promise of true love. But despite the usual contrivances, Imagine Me and You manages to be sweetly entertaining, and even the most homophobic viewers may forget themselves as they root for true love.

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