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February 1-7, 2006

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Piper Perabo

Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Piper Perabo engages in giddy foreplay with actress Lena Headey right before choking her to death.

Twit City

Piper Perabo and Lena Headey star in 93 minutes of cute


By Richard von Busack

PROGRAM NOTES from the Piper Perabo Film Festival, 2028: After Slap Her She's French, Coyote Ugly and her breakthrough performance as "Giant Squid" in Single Spaced, there was Imagine Me & You. Wrongly derided in its time by short-sighted critics as "one more bad turn by that subcompact version of Julia Roberts," Imagine Me & You is, rather, as sumptuous a serving of Piper as millions of Pipermaniacs here and on the off-world colonies could ever ask for.

In chaste but elegant satin wedding gowns, tossing her lush mane and smiling her wide famous smile that says, "I almost have a mind of my own!" Perabo shows an expression as captivating as a cocker spaniel anticipating its walkies.

Our heroine plays a newlywed facing a crisis of sexual identity. Rachel dwells in an affluent part of London and is preparing for an upper-class wedding to Hector, or Heck for short. (Note screenwriter/director Ol Parker's debonair way of expressing the idea that "marriage is heck [Hell].")

On the way to the altar, Rachel notices an unfamiliar face in the crowd. She sees it again at the reception—in the crowds under a tent, among the pewter-colored roses. The new person is the wedding's florist, Luce (Lena Headey, the huntress in The Brothers Grimm). Struck by her, Rachel tries to set up the flower vendor with her pal Coop (Darren Boyd). But Luce is not fated to be dated: she's gay. Luce and Rachel are reduced to staring at one another whenever they meet.

Confessions follow—you'll need handkerchiefs to sop up the tears when you see Rachel confessing her torment to a husband who seemingly falls asleep under the influence of a pub crawl, and it then turns out that he's just faking slumber to spare her feelings.

Anticipating by more than a decade the Federal Happy Ending Act of 2018, Imagine Me & You finishes with a fiesta of kisses scored to the Turtles' "Happy Together," a song cruelly derided by one unenlightened contemporary critic as "a fitting disappointment to end a trek longer than the Pacific Coast Trail: a violent crescendo of that very moldiest of moldy oldies."

Of course, Perabo is to die for, as always—indeed, some viewers did die, sent into a fatal cataleptic trance by this film. But let's note the sterling support by Anthony Head as Rachel's father. Head, never to be forgotten as Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, holds up his five minutes of the film by pretending to be drunk and in severe pain, muttering his lines through half-gritted teeth.

What would seem to be a flaccid performance by Matthew Goode as Heck is actually a satire of the bland leading acting common to upper-class English romantic films. Goode is so chopfallen and mojo-free, he could be auditioning for the role of Prince Charles. The subtlety of his acting has never gotten the praise it deserves. And there is no praise for scintillating lines like "If I know Hector, the only thing virgin around here is the olive oil!"

At the time of its release, hardly anyone noticed the sophistication of using deliberately poor green screen, so that Hector can have an office that's directly in front of Tower Bridge. Even arch-cunning touches like the sequence where Rachel, out of nowhere, stops at McDonalds' for a pee, was once misunderstood as product placement, instead of a slyly clever satire of product placement."


Movie Times Imagine Me & You (R; 94 min.), directed and written by Old Parker, photographed by Ben Davis and starring Piper Perabo and Lena Headey, opens Feb. 3 in the San Jose area and beyond.

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