Monday, 18 September 2006

Imagine Me and You (2006)

Completely inoffensive, by-the-numbers romcom, nevermind the lesbianism

The romantic comedy is more often than not a creature of such predictability that one wishes an enterprising taxidermist would publish a catalogue of romantic comedy typologies, just like what Roland Barthes and Aarne-Thompson have done for folk tales, myths, and James Bond novels. After all, the romantic comedy, being apparently made for crowds who seek agreeable entertainment, is much less complicated and variable and hence easier to prune into a few stock types.

Imagine, if you will, a coroner of film peering over the dissected body of what used to be Imagine You and Me, his white smock hardly stained by the efforts of the autopsy. Muttering under his voice to you, like a housewife exchanging tips on shopping at the farmer’s market, he declaims matter-of-factly: "Romantic comedy. The newly-married spouse discovers love at first sight. With a person so nice and responsible they try to deny their mutual attraction, and then to try to hide the fact from the innocent party. Hilarity and comedy ensue."

Imagine You and Me is just like what the coroner described, with the minor twist that the spouse and the person she falls for are both women. It’s a twist that is so inconsequential that it generates not even faint ripples on the inoffensive romantic comedy template it is based on. Yes, you’ve heard me correctly. Despite featuring a lesbian love affair, the plot and twists, the structure of this movie reads like any other fluffy romantic comedy you’ve watched and forgotten the names of, despite their ‘twists’.

Hence, expect your usual romantic comedy requirements to be fulfilled: the initial meeting between the leads, the introduction of the eccentric (they’re always eccentric in romantic comedies!) in-laws and friends, the early outing where something funny must transpire at a public place, the realisations of love, the initial euphoria and giggly phase of romantic discovery, the conflict between what feels right (the affair) and what should be done (loyalty to the marriage), and of course, the breakup that is followed very closely by the capitulation of the innocent spouse to the cause of true love, and a reconciliation involving a race to the airport. So formulaic is Imagine You and Me that you might actually forget that this movie is about a lesbian affair, given the unimaginative writing and direction of Ol Parker. Even the incredibly inoffensive PG-rated Kinky Boots had a more interesting and inspired plot!

Given the director’s oath to hew to the PG-rated romantic comedy formula, do not expect this film to have any intimate scenes between its lesbian characters (a major disappointment), deep social commentary, or any resemblance to the real world. The only scandalous thing about this movie is its R21 rating, despite its bloodless treatment.

You’ll love watching Imagine Me and You if:

1. You’re a lesbian and don’t mind a frothy romantic comedy because it has lesbians. Must support mah.
2. You’re a hotblooded male longing to see how the other team plays its game. Lesbians feature in fantasies of heterosexual males mah.
3. You like all sorts of romantic comedies, especially those directed by the British, who seem intent on making their comedies as bland as their cooking.

First published at incinemas on 21 September 2006

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