‘The Idea of You’ Ending Explained: How and Why It Differs From the Book

The film’s director, executive producer and star tell TheWrap why it was important to have a happy ending

Prime Video

Note: Spoilers ahead for “The Idea of You,” now streaming on Prime Video

If “The Idea of You” proves anything, it’s that internet trolls can thoroughly ruin a good thing. But where the book ends with a relationship ended, the movie gives a bit more hope — and that was a very deliberate choice by the filmmakers.

“The Idea of You,” now streaming on Prime Video, is an adaptation of Robinne Lee’s book of the same name. It centers on Soléne Marchand (Anne Hathaway), a 40-year-old single mom who’s still grappling with a painful divorce. During a trip to Coachella, she accidentally stumbles into the trailer of Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), a 24-year-old singer who’s part of the boy band August Moon. The two have immediate chemistry, and not long after, they strike up a passionate romance.

But, between their age difference and Hayes Campbell’s fame, the duo faces a lot of scrutiny. In both versions of the story — the book and the film — Soléne decides that the relationship is too hard to make work with the toll that it’s taking on her family, and they split up.

This is where the film changes things though. After it fades to black, fans are treated to a “five years later” sequence, in which Hayes and Soléne find each other again, and it’s heavily implied that they rekindle their love.

According to producer Cathy Schulman, that deviation from the book was something that was discussed as a possibility in the team’s “very first” meeting with Robinne Lee (though Lee said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that she “was not involved at all”). Schulman noted that it largely happened because they wanted people to leave the movie with the idea that “happiness is possible.”

“Sometimes, you know, it’s a matter of time and place, but we certainly didn’t want to make a movie that said it wasn’t [possible],” Schulman explained to TheWrap. “So that was just crucial to all of us. The way I like to look at it is, it’s not really different from the book, it’s the next bit. We imagined what would happen next.”

Director Michael Showalter, who noted that he is “a very optimistic person and sort of a magical thinker” readily agreed with wanting to leave viewers with a sense of hope, particularly as a lover of film, and this particular genre of film, himself.

“This is not a romantic tragedy. This is a romantic dramedy,” Showalter told TheWrap. “And I want to at least let the audience feel like there’s hope, there’s a possibility that these two characters could could find each other again, because I think that’s in the DNA of the movie.”

For Nicholas Galitzine, who stars as Hayes Campbell, that capacity for hope is necessary now “more than ever.”

“Things can seem extremely bleak at times, you know, just the state of the world or the internet itself,” he told TheWrap. “And we want to express, as a project, that we believe in love, and we believe in human connection, despite the odds at times. And so, it just felt right.”

He continued, “I don’t think we just would have felt good or had the reaction that we’ve had so far, from all of the screenings, had we not included that. And I just love that end sequence. It fills me with, with such joy. You know, we filmed that sort of a few months, actually, after production, which is great as well. So it was like a nice little sort of button on the whole project too, just the filming of it.”

And, though Lee told EW that a happy ending was “not the story I wanted to tell” in the book, she’s not surprised by the switch.

“You have to step away and let the filmmakers do what they’re going to do and not get too concerned with what it is you’ve created and when it stops because it’s a completely different medium,” she said.

“Adaptations are always a tricky thing because books are so much more cerebral, and you’re reading the character’s thoughts, and it’s hard to convey character’s thoughts in a film, so there’s going to be changes.”

“The Idea of You” is now streaming on Prime Video.

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