The ending of 'The Idea of You', explained

The movie includes a major change from the book.

Harper's Bazaar India

If you’re one of the many readers who was left heartbroken at the end of Robinne Lee’s best-selling 2017 novel The Idea of You, you may be pleasantly surprised by the ending of the Prime Video adaptation.

The romantic comedy, which officially dropped on the streaming platform on May 2, follows the whirlwind romance between Solène (Anne Hathaway), a 40-year-old art gallerist with a pessimistic outlook on love following a messy divorce, and Hayes (Nicholas Galitzine), a 24-year-old member of the world’s biggest boy band, who is desperate to find an authentic connection. Their paths collide in an unlikely way (Solène literally stumbles into Hayes after mistaking his Coachella trailer for a bathroom), and they thereafter embark on an earth-shattering love affair that puts them under the scrutiny of the entire world.

While Lee ends Solène and Hayes's love story on a bittersweet note in the book, the couple faces a far more hopeful future in the movie. Ahead, we break down the differences between the two endings and explain what viewers can expect from the adaptation.

How does the book end?

The Idea of You, by Robinne Lee
'The Idea of You', by Robinne Lee, ₹1,148

Despite their intense feelings for each other, Solène ultimately calls off her romance with Hayes at the end of the novel. Seeing the strain their highly publicised relationship has put on her teenage daughter, Izzy, the gallerist decides to put her family first and breaks up with the singer.

Hayes pleads with her to reconsider, but Solène resists his attempts to reach her and lies to him, saying she is no longer in love with him. While he calls and messages her every day for months on end, his attempts to contact her eventually cease. Solène notes that the messages stopped “long, long before I had stopped loving him.”

How does the movie’s ending differ from the book’s?

In the film adaptation, Solène breaks up with Hayes for the same reason as in the book, citing the emotional toll their relationship has taken on Izzy. “She didn’t sign up for any of this, and it’s too much for her,” she says. “I have to put her first.” She and Hayes spend one final night together, during which he asks Solène to promise to “revisit” their relationship in five years. She responds, “It’s too long. If you get a shot at happiness, you take it. And I will, too, okay?”

The Idea of You
Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video

Shortly thereafter, the movie informs us that five years have passed. Izzy has moved across the country to Chicago for college, while Hayes has embarked on a successful solo career. Flipping through channels late one night, Solène catches an interview with Hayes, in which he reveals his plans to take a holiday to Los Angeles because “there’s someone I would like to see there.” In the next scene, she is working at her gallery, when Hayes enters the shop. The two exchange heartfelt smiles before the screen cuts to black. Though the audiences aren’t told exactly what happens next, the implication is that Solène and Hayes get back together.

Director Michael Showalter explained the decision to deviate from the book’s ending in an interview with TV Insider.

“There’s a very long history in romantic movies of changing the ending so that the two main characters are together at the end. There’s a bit of a pragmatic answer to this, which is that movie audiences just want to see at least that there’s some hope for these two characters at the end of the movie,” he said. “We don’t have to tell the audience exactly how it ended. We’re not telling the audience exactly where things wound up. But we are at least giving the audience an opportunity to try to fill it in for themselves. As a fan of the genre, I love a romantic story that ends with the two main characters getting coffee because that tells me there’s hope.”

Feature Image Credits: Amazon Prime Video 

This article originally appeared in in May 2024. 

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