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February 17, 2006

Love at first sight

But she finds it at her wedding--to someone else

Imagine Me & You, Ol Parkerís directorial debut, is a British romantic comedy with a subtle twist.

Rachel (Piper Perabo) is marrying Heck (Matthew Goode), her long-time boyfriend, but feels a connection with the florist from the moment they see each other.

There are expectations, perhaps, for some broad political statement about same-sex love. It may be more political to be non-political in telling such a story. Imagine Me & You tells a love story in a simple, non-confrontational fashion. It could almost as easily have been the tale of a woman falling for another man on her wedding day.

At the reception, Rachelís younger sister is asking random questions of everyone she can find. When she poses the issue of what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force, the florist Luce (Lena Heady) steps in to answer. She and Rachel are obviously captivated by one another, and Rachelís restraint in the face of such an unstoppable force, her sudden feelings of desire for someone other than Heck, is a pleasure to witness.

Rachel invites Luce to dinner, and tries to hook her up with Cooper (Darren Boyd), who had his eyes on her during the reception. Luce reveals to Heck that she is a lesbian. Goode has a great Hugh Grant-like quality, and his response is funny and genuine.

ďWell done,Ē he tells her, and they drink a toast.

Dinner discussion turns to love at first sight. Luce declares that she firmly believes in that instant connection, while Rachel says love has to build over time. The women later have a talk on the balcony, and as they warm each other up in the rain, Heck walks out to see where they are. Rachel looks like she just got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

Rachelís discomfort isnít about her attraction to a woman. Rather, it is that she is experiencing feelings for someone other than her husband. This is what makes the film work. Itís not about coming out as a lesbian, itís about realizing that things change, and desire is fluid. Her guilt is because of her commitment to Heck.

After a night of dancing, Rachel and Luce walk home, talking about flowers. Luce tells her that her favorite ones, lilies, mean, ďI dare you to love me.Ē Rachel almost kisses Luce when they arrive at her house, but a bright light suddenly shines on them and she leaves.

Rachel later goes to Luceís flower shop to say goodbye, but the unstoppable force rears its head again, and they finally give in and kiss. Rachel feels she needs to confess to her husband, and she does, while heís passed out on the couch after a long night of drinking. She thinks heís asleep, but he heard every word.

All sides feel they need to step out of the way to make the other one happy. Heck tells Rachel he will get out of the path of the unstoppable force--the love at first sight that Rachel now knows is possible. Luce decides to move away. Rachel is willing to give up Luce to keep her commitment to Heck. When Rachel tells her parents what is going on, her fatherís advice is to follow her heart.

And she does.

Imagine Me & You is a well-done film with lots of humor and tears. There will always be room for coming-out stories, but this kind of story is what the community should be striving for--normalcy. Portraying two women in love as simply as telling a tale of star-crossed heterosexual lovers is just what is needed.




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