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Imagine Me And You

"Imagine Me and You" reps a slick but slight Brit pic, chockfull with tart one-liners and pretty people, with one major twist: The romantic leads are both women. Mainstream auds who would respond best to pic's fluffy aesthetic might balk at its Sapphic storyline, while gay and lesbian viewers will find girl-on-girl action here far too tame.

With:
With: Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, Celia Imrie, Anthony Head, Darren Boyd, Sue Johnston, Eva Birthistle. (English dialogue.)

Imagine Me and You” reps a slick but slight Brit pic, chockfull with tart one-liners and pretty posh people, with one major twist: The romantic leads are both women. Script by debuting helmer Ol Parker (who wrote BBC drama “Loved Up”) cribs heavily but fairly competently from the Richard Curtis romcom handbook, from its opening wedding scene to its public declaration of love finale. However, the mainstream auds who would respond best to pic’s fluffy aesthetic might balk at its Sapphic storyline, while gay and lesbian viewers will find girl-on-girl action here far too tame. Imagine midrange-to-low B.O.

Set mostly in London’s Primrose Hill neighborhood, “Imagine” opens with blushing bride Rachel (Piper Perabo, assaying a fair English accent) about to wed her longtime sweetheart Heck (Matthew Goode). She makes it to the church on time, but on the way up the aisle locks eyes with Luce (Lena Headey), the florist Rachel’s mother Tessa (Celia Imrie) hired, whom Rachel has never met before. The attraction is instantaneous, but the wedding and reception go ahead as planned.

Script has to stretch to get the two women together in order to let the romance blossom. Seeing that Heck’s rakish best man Coop (Darren Boyd) has taken a shine to Luce, Rachel invites both to a dinner where Luce unabashedly reveals she’s a lesbian. (Believably, the information only makes Coop pursue her more.)

A chance encounter in a supermarket and Luce’s unlikely new friendship with Rachel’s little sister H (Boo Jaclyn) throw the women in each other’s company until neither can deny the mutual attraction. Even so, they take their sweet time revealing true feelings to each other. They finally crack and lock lips in the backroom of Luce’s upmarket flower shop, but the love play remains chastely PG-rated.

Heck, however, senses something’s amiss when his new missus goes off sex, and confides his worries obliquely to Coop. The men’s barroom banter reps the truest ringing dialogue in the film, their friendship convincing in a way that Luce and Rachel’s relationship never is. Femme auds may begin to suspect that Parker’s knowledge of lesbians is mostly theoretical.

A steady stream of well-turned quips nevertheless manages to hold interest. Meanwhile, the procession of walk-on characters that pass through Luce’s shop add comic glints.

Cast of capable but not outstanding British thesps in the supporting roles sparkle where they can, but the two comely, toothy female leads show limited range here, and never cook up convincing sexual chemistry. Goode acquits himself best with some of the film’s sharpest lines, even though, on the strength of this and Woody Allen’s “Match Point,” he looks in danger of being forever typecast as the affable toff patsy.

Tech package is sturdily assembled, but not flashy. Film’s use of North London locations makes logical geographical sense to local residents, and shows off for foreigners some of the burg’s prettiest upper-middle-class quarters and parkland.

Imagine Me And You

U.K.-Germany

Production: A Fox Searchlight (in U.S.) release of an Ealing Studios, BBC Films production, in association with Cougar Films, Fragile Films (U.K.), X Filme (Germany). (International sales: Focus Features, New York.) Produced by Sophie Balhetchet, Barnaby Thompson, Lynda LaPlante, James Spring. Executive producers, Stefan Arndt, David M. Thompson, Lynda La Plante, James Spring. Directed, written by Ol Parker.

Crew: Camera (color), Ben Davis; editor, Alex Mackie; music, Alex Heffes; production designer, Eve Mavrakis; costume designer, Consolata Boyle; sound (Dolby Digital), Max Hoskins. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 10, 2005. Running time: 93 MIN.

Cast: With: Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, Celia Imrie, Anthony Head, Darren Boyd, Sue Johnston, Eva Birthistle. (English dialogue.)

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