January 27, 2006

Imagine Me & You

Directed by Ol Parker Starring Piper Perabo, Lena Headey and Matthew Goode

Reviewed by Martin Tsai

Gay cowboys aren't the only ones who wish they knew how to quit each other. Apparently so do "dygetarians" AKA "lesbifriends", as alleged in the Brit rom-com Imagine Me & You. These homos can only be happy together behind the backs of their hapless spouses. On her walk down the aisle to marry gormless stiff Heck (Matthew Goode; no, not the rocker), Rachel (Piper Perabo) and floral designer Luce (Lena Headey) exchange goo-goo eyes. Luce yearns for Rach to come to her window while everyone else obliviously tosses off obligatory gay jokes, i.e. "she's gay as a tennis player". Rach is soon thinking about the girl she loves day and night, and inevitably faces the dilemma of whether to follow her heart or … really, what else would anyone follow in this post-1963 day and age?

Imagine is like When Night is Falling as re-written by Richard Curtis. Every character speaks with that toffee-nosed Hugh Grantish sarcasm. There's the ghastly wedding scene complete with embarrassing speeches and the wankiest pop oldies, à la Curtis's Four Weddings and a Funeral. By the way, can we please annul all this unholy movie matrimony. Wasn't Nia Vardalos's ethnic nuptial circus more than enough? Anyway, Imagine is full of cute foreshadowing and clichéd coincidence (for example, Rach rings Luce and hangs up without saying anything, then Luce hits the redial button and wouldn't you know that poor Heck answers). Really, how much pride, prejudice, sense and sensibility are we supposed to stomach?

Bottom line is, Imagine lacks the charm supplied by Grant or Colin Firth. It doesn't even have cowboys doing the Jack Twist (or Jack Nasty if you will). Exactly a decade ago the Wachowski brothers made Bound, which had a similar setup except the married woman got her lesbo lover to steal from the husband. Bound is arguably one of the best gay-themed films because sexuality is completely irrelevant to the plot, and the queer characters are no different from regular folk. The essential problem with the likes of Imagine and Brokeback Mountain is that they are gay films made by heteros for heteros. They purport to be sympathetic toward homosexuals, yet unwittingly cast them into the stereotype of selfish home wreckers. These films are exploitative if not downright fraudulent.

© Copyright 2006 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.