“I dare you to love me” by Julie Bozza

I’ve long wanted to blog about the film Imagine Me & You (2006), but I’ve kept putting it off. I usually only blog about films and books I love wholeheartedly, no matter how flawed or indeed how perfect they are. And it’s true I love this film, yet there are parts of it that dissatisfy or annoy or mystify me. Maybe that’s a good thing?

The story begins on Rachel’s (Piper Perabo) wedding day. She is marrying Heck (Matthew Goode) who has been her best friend and lover for years, and who her family adores. It is soon clear to us that Heck is far more romantically involved with Rachel than she with him, but she thinks she’s doing the right thing for everyone’s sake. Alas, it’s only the expected thing, and Rachel simply hadn’t had a good enough reason to resist. As Rachel walks down the aisle, however, she meets the gaze of florist Luce (Lena Headey), and later says in that moment she saw Luce’s soul. Luce is a lesbian, and guesses at what she herself is feeling, but Rachel has never thought of herself as anything other than straight, so it takes her a long while to realise what’s happened.

Yes, it’s a film about love at first sight. To reinforce the point, it was originally titled Click. Writer-director Ol Parker has talked about how he fell in love at first sight with the woman who became his wife, and he’s “still gone, ten years on”. He describes how the filmmakers angsted over how to shoot, edit and score that moment when Rachel and Luce click; he finally decided that actually it wasn’t that moment but the rest of the movie that would convince us this was love. “Only if we could make you believe that the two characters should be together, would be together, and would stay together, would you believe that they had truly fallen for each other that fast.”

So the proof of the pudding is in the eating…? So to speak. I was quite happy to believe in Luce and Rachel’s love, but oddly I felt the impact was rather undercut by Rachel’s much younger sister Henrietta (known as H) also falling in love at first sight. While H was a fun and cool character, her coup de foudre didn’t get much follow-up screen-time, and I never felt at all convinced by it. Maybe Parker had a point that the whole story is needed to backup that first click, that first moment. And maybe, I find myself thinking, a film or novel only has room for one such happening, even if that’s what the film is all about…? (Does that even make sense? A film, while setting out to ‘prove’ love at first sight, can’t indulge in more than one instance, even though it’s declaring, “Hey, this really happens!”)

You can see how I keep troubling over this film and what (if anything) it means.

One thing that did work, I feel, is the story of Rachel’s parents, who seem stuck in a marriage that became little more than habit some years ago. They finally take the chance, however, at rediscovering reasons to be together. And that storyline bolstered the main one nicely, in that it suggested relationships are something you do and keep on doing; they aren’t one unchangeable thing that relies on the effects and after-effects of the first moments; they evolve and they require an effort to be maintained.

Other positive things. The film stars the marvellous Lena Headey, one of my major girl crushes. She’s talented, one of those real chameleonic actors – and in this film (as in Possession), she’s kissing a girl. Huzzah! Piper Perabo provides a very pretty and sweet counterbalance to Lena. In many ways this is an ‘opposites attract’ pairing, and it works. I understand that the two actors are great friends in real life – but be that as it may, on screen there is a comfortable feeling between them. The two characters, when they allow themselves, have great fun together.

The film is a darned good stab at a ‘regular’ romantic comedy that happens to feature a lesbian couple. The soundtrack is great, including the song Happy Together from which it takes its title. There’s an English feel to it all, and it makes nice use of its London settings, though I suspect you could easily transplant the story elsewhere. And, with Luce being a florist, there’s a lovely running joke about the meaning of flowers.

“What does the lily mean?” Rachel eventually asks.

“The lily means…” Luce replies. “The lily means ‘I dare you to love me’.”

And I like that, too. I dare you to take this moment, she says, this unexpected thing that’s happened between us, and make something of it. Love requires courage; no doubt even more so when you’re suddenly swimming against the current of the life you’ve laid out for yourself, the life that others have assumed you will lead. Such a change requires not only courage but imagination. To finally see that something else is possible. You have to conceive of it before you can believe in it.

Imagine me and you…?  I do.


 Julie’s Queer Romance Recommendations

Fox Hunt by Chris Quinton. A terrific story by a terrific storyteller.

Nor Iron Bars a Cage by Kaje Harper. A truly accomplished piece of world building (and astonishingly it’s free).

Tattoos and Teacups by Anna Martin. Not the likeliest of romantic heroes and I loved him all the more for that.


 About Julie Bozza

Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with Colin Morgan and John Keats.


 

About the Butterfly Hunter

It started asBUTTERFLY HUNTER-new-200 a simple assignment for Aussie bush guide Dave Taylor – escort a lone Englishman in quest of an unknown species of butterfly. However Nicholas Goring is no ordinary tourist, his search is far from straightforward, and it’s starting to look as if the butterflies don’t want to be found. As Dave teaches Nicholas everything he needs to survive in the Outback he discovers that he too has quite a bit to learn – and that very often the best way to locate something really important is just not to want to find it…

Grab a copy on Amazon US

Or on Amazon UK

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Oh Julie. I adore you so much. I’m so curious now to watch this film! Thank you for this post!

    …courage and imagination…

  • “relationships are something you do and keep on doing; they aren’t one unchangeable thing that relies on the effects and after-effects of the first moments; they evolve and they require an effort to be maintained.”

    Beautifully put, and absolutely true! So many romance stories stop at the moment of revelation or soon afterwards and imply a ‘happy ever after’ simply because there is a ‘happy now’, but unless the people inolved have both the will and the capacity to make a real effort over and over again to hold the relationship together in adversity they’re just doomed from the word ‘go’. There are a lot of fictional couple who simply don’t have what it takes to last the course, and that’s why stories about them seem so utterly inconsequential and in the end disposable. How nice to hear about a film where such an important point does at least get a look-in!

    • Thank you, Fiona! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and in particular that point. It was interesting to find that the filmmaker himself knew it was the marathon that counted, even if the relationship starts with a sprint! :-)

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