Good Ol Boy

Writer-director Ol Parker said he didn't set out to write a lesbian romantic comedy for "Imagine Me & You."

TORONTO — For his feature debut, Ol Parker never set out to write a lesbian romantic comedy. "I wanted to write about love at first sight because I fell in love at first sight," says the writer-director of "Imagine Me & You," which had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month. Thinking high concept, the London-born Parker tried to develop the most complicated love-at-first-sight situation imaginable. He decided it would be walking down the aisle to the altar and finding someone else along the way.

And so that's what happens in the film to Rachel (Piper Perabo) when she locks eyes for the first time with her florist, Luce (Lena Headey), as she's being escorted by her father to marry her longtime beau, Heck (Matthew Goode). For the rest of the movie, Rachel has to sort out her feelings for both Luce, who is gay, and Heck.

Parker originally played with the idea of the mystery lover being a bloke, but decided that would be too "Madame Bovary" and "all misery and guilt." "In the middle of the night, I woke up and I realized it had to be the same sex," the filmmaker explains over a drink. "Then it was like trying to write a gay movie that takes no account of the politics of coming out. It buys into a very spiritual idea of love — it's about the soul and the body."

Which means it's the exact opposite of "Brokeback Mountain," another gay-themed film with deafening buzz at Toronto in which Heath Ledger's character can't quite commit himself to a lifetime with his longtime love, another cowboy. In "Imagine Me & You," Rachel never pauses over the conundrum of having a relationship with another woman; her issue is that she's already married.

Aside from its attractive cast — "You can write the best script in the entire world and if people don't want to shag your leads, than you're buggered," Parker says, quoting Richard Curtis ("Love Actually" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral") — and its witty British humor, what's charming about the film is how chaste it is. Luce and Rachel have a fully clothed love scene that involves only some intense smooching in the back of Luce's flower shop. "I should have pushed that further," Parker admits. "But the movie was never going to be subtitled 'Hot Girl on Girl Action.'"
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