The Idea of You by Robinne Lee is one of my absolute favorite books. It is beautifully written, and it gave me the longest book hangover of my life. I mentioned this back in 2019 when I did my list of 10 POC Authors to Check Out Now.
Like Deadline inform us, in In December of 2018, it was announced that the book had been acquired by Cathy Schulman, President and CEO of Welle Entertainment who would be working alongside Gabrielle Union via her Production Company I’ll Have Another. Naturally, I and other fans I know were extremely excited because we have said that it would make a great film.
Things went quiet for awhile but fast forward to 2021 and we finally have an update and umm… we have thoughts. Deadline announced that The Idea of You is being developed by Amazon Studios and Tony-nominated actress and filmmaker Jennifer Westfeldt is adapting the screenplay. The film will still be produced under Schulman’s Welle Entertainment as well as Gabrielle Unions company I’ll Have Another. That’s perfectly fine but, we have some other more concerning changes and believe me when I say, it’s a doozy.
First let me just say, we all know that book to film adaptations are often a challenge, and they are not going to please every reader. When you come out of the gate on a bad note, it does not put things in a positive light for the readers who love the story you are working with. Now don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions but in this case the changes for The Idea of You just cannot be overlooked or excused.
Just to give you an idea (no pun intended) of how much has changed, let’s start off with the synopsis for Robinne Lee’s book shall we?
Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.
What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.
Now, let’s take a look at the film’s synopsis:
The Idea of You centers on Sophie, a 40-year-old divorced mother. Sophie’s husband Dan left her for a younger woman, and now he has cancelled his Coachella trip with their 15-year-old daughter. Sophie picks up the pieces and braves the crowds and desert heat. There, she meets 24-year-old Hayes Campbell, the lead singer of the hottest boy band on the planet, August Moon.
I’ve heard of creative license but this takes the cake.
Sophie? Coachella? No. and No. Do you see the difference? They’ve changed the main characters name and the location where she meets Hayes. For some people this doesn’t seem like a big deal but it’s huge. It is totally changing the character of Solène. She’s a French woman who owns a very sophisticated art gallery. Is Sophie going to be French? Is she going to own an art gallery.?
Also, Coachella is not a place Solène would have taken her daughter to. Hayes’s age has been changed too but that I can look past. Not the other stuff though, especially the synopsis for this film. It literally sounds like every film that has been done before and I hate that it makes Solène sound like she’s some broken woman with that “picks up the pieces and braves the crowds and desert heat” line. It’s just. No. Solène is a strong woman and never gives off the indication in the book that she’s just falling apart without Daniel.
An even bigger issue I have is the casting of Anne Hathaway. I do like her but, she’s not Solène. I guess changing the name to Sophie gives them an advantage in that regard. Anne was was never even on my radar as Solène.
The press releases are driving me crazy because every single one says this film was adapted for her to be the star. What about the Author? You know the woman behind the book that the inspiration is supposed to be coming from? As far as I’m concerned this is a loose adaptation of her story and nothing more.
From what we know so far, this film does not appear to be honoring the characters Robinne Lee created. Her book is much more sophisticated than this generic storyline. I truly feel bad for her because this is her baby.
Over the years we have all witnessed our favorite authors have their visions completely ignored once their work was adapted for the screen. It makes no sense to me because having the actual book the author wrote is like having the script. I cannot fathom how you could completely stray from their work. It honestly makes me wonder if some of these people have actually read the books they want to put onscreen or if their end goal is just to fatten their pockets.
Like me, other fans of The Idea of You are not happy, and they had no problem expressing their feelings on Twitter with the hashtag #DontRuinTheIdeaofYou attached after the press release came.
There you have it. Now if only the producers would pay attention to the readers. That is wishful thinking though. Like I said, this is not starting off on a positive note and I truly believe those involved in bringing The Idea of You to life onscreen, don’t realize just how much this story means to those of us who have read it.
As of right now the actor who will be playing Hayes Campbell has not been announced so I’m not sure if they are still looking for him or have found him and are just drawing it out. What I do know is we’re all nervous after what we have already seen so far.
What are your thoughts on this adaptation of Robinne Lee’s book The Idea of You? Tell us in the comments.