Films involving queer relationships are often a disappointment to LGBT viewers, because the portrayals are stereotypical, the relationship is a sideline to a heterosexual plot, or the film is so small that you’ll only be able to see it at film festivals, and it isn’t going to get out there where it can be seen by a wider audience. Happily, among the many reasons to see and like Imagine Me and You, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, is the fact that none of the above apply.
We open in London on the day of Rachel’s (Piper Perabo) wedding to her best friend and longtime boyfriend, Hector (Matthew Goode). In attendance are the couple's friends, family, and, at the request of Rachel’s younger sister, the wedding’s florist Luce (Lena Headey). Before the end of the reception, Luce is becoming fast friends with all of Rachel’s family, fending off advances from more than one man in Heck’s party, and on her way to becoming more than friends with the new bride.
Thus we have the beginnings of the love triangle, as Rachel's romantic feelings for Luce throw a wrench into her plans to marry Heck.
In essence, this film is a romantic comedy with queer content with precious few of the pitfalls often found in movies about romantic triangles. There's no stupidity about relationships, no unrealistic, tired, comical misunderstandings, the primary and important secondary characters are three dimensional, acting and production values are high quality, cliché and stereotype are at a minimum, and last but not least from a lesbian/bi perspective, we have a mainstream film in which a gay relationship is central, and positively presented.
This is due to a number of reasons, one being that it was primarily a UK production so, though bought by Fox Searchlight for distribution, Hollywood was largely uninvolved in the making of the film.
Writer and director Ol Parker is at pains not to present lesbian relationships as inherently different from straight ones, while not going out of his way to force the issue, and not boxing queer relationships into having to conform to the straight person ideal mould either.
At the same time he is aware that much of his audience will not be used to seeing queer relationships this way, and is in a sense counting on it.
In the Q & A after the screening, he told us that he had originally written it to be about a man and a woman, but found that people found parts of the story development too predictable, thus he discovered that he was actually writing a gay film.