'The Idea of You's' meet-cute is set at Coachella. How realistic is it?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a meet-cute in a romantic comedy, be it on the page or the screen, must have at least a sliver of “it could happen to you” magic to work.

The new film “The Idea of You,” adapted from Robinne Lee’s 2017 novel, features Anne Hathaway as 40-year-old divorced mom Solène. She has a chance meeting with 20-something boy band singer Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine) in a bathroom at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, planting the seeds for their romance. (Yes, a bathroom.)

Since the real-life Coachella just wrapped its twin weekends in Indio (with early tickets going on sale for the 2025 edition Friday, May 3), let’s take a look at how realistic a celebrity meet-cute at the festival actually is.

The film opens with aerial shots of Silver Lake, including the Sunset Junction sign, before Solène drops off her teenage daughter and two friends at her ex-husband’s house. He has gotten them all-access passes to Coachella and a VIP meet-and-greet for fictional boy band August Moon, which seems to be one of the festival’s headliners. But then he has to bail and it’s up to Solène to skip her first solo camping trip — which she’s ill-equipped for judging by the “Camping for Dummies” book she’s packed — to save the day and take the teens to Indio.

In case you don’t know where they’re going, a montage of footage with the word “Coachella” superimposed on top shows off festival scenery. And some shots, like that of the campground, look like the real festival, with the palm trees and the mountains that surround the Empire Polo Club in Indio.

Other glimpses of the field will feel slightly off to the eagle-eyed Coachella-goer. The Ferris wheel isn’t quite in the right place, and while you may spot some of the large-scale colorful art pieces that have been at Coachella in the past, others, including a cluster of giant red-capped toadstools, aren’t quite the festival’s vibe.

Closer are the generic food stands in the background advertising burgers, dumplings, lemonade, etc., as the group arrives at the festival. Then there is a nod to a very real Coachella item from the past.

“VIP entrance is by ‘Lodestar’?” Solène asks while looking at a map. “Lodestar” was a real art piece at the festival in 2018 created by artist Randy Polumbo and made from the fuselage of a jet.

The teens ditch Solène, ostensibly to go watch St. Vincent, because they just got the stage lineup upon arrival, and she tells them to check their texts, which, if you’ve been to Coachella, you know is not a reliable way to communicate once the field fills up.

Left on her own, Solène walks into an enclosed air-conditioned area with couches and a bar where an enthusiastic August Moon fan directs her to the VIP bathrooms outside the space.

Solène doesn’t quite follow directions and finds herself surrounded by a bunch of identical unmarked trailers. She picks one and goes inside to use the facilities, currently occupied by our Harry Styles-inspired pop star.

He is surprised to see her and she is confused because she’s just there to use the bathroom and doesn’t initially recognize him, despite his fame. After she emerges from the restroom Hayes explains it’s his trailer.

“I’m in the band,” he says. “We’re performing on the main stage.”

Finally, the light bulb goes off for our heroine and she realizes that he’s in August Moon. After some banter, they meet again when her daughter and friends come through for the meet-and-greet.

And later, when performing on stage, Hayes sees Solène in the crowd and then decides on the fly to change the song during August Moon’s set.

So, could any of this actually happen?

First, if August Moon was real, would they even be able to headline Coachella? The festival has had its share of pop stars in recent years, including headlining sets from Beyoncé (2018), Ariana Grande (2019), Harry Styles (2022) and Blackpink (2023), August Moon is made to sound like the peak of their popularity has passed, since the teen daughter liked them back when she was in seventh grade. Unless it was a big reunion gig like Guns N’ Roses back in 2016, it’s doubtful that August Moon would headline Coachella.

And if August Moon did get booked in that coveted spot, Coachella doesn’t typically host big meet-and-greets like you’ll find at arena shows where an artist is headlining.

But let’s say all of this does happen, one of the most unlikely things is that a headliner would change the set list in the middle of the performance.

Suspending disbelief on all of those practical matters, would Solène even have a chance to run into Hayes at the festival the way the movie portrays it?

If you have a regular VIP pass for Coachella, which is available for purchase, absolutely not. A VIP pass doesn’t get you backstage or anywhere near the artists. The only way to get that access is if you have an artist or guest pass. Neither are for sale in the typical ticket-buying process.

However, there is a way regular people can get those. When begging Solène to take his place, the ex-husband tells her he splurged for all-access passes and “everything’s paid for — the hotels, the meals.”

While not a hotel, the luxe Safari camping on-site at the real Coachella comes with that coveted backstage access and breakfast daily. For 2024, Safari camping started at $9,000 for two people. The ex-husband could have theoretically dropped $18,000 to get accommodations for four people, which would include those all-access guest passes.

The ultra-luxe “Resort at Coachella” yurts include artist passes and access to catering at the festival. In 2023, a luxury yurt for two cost more than $30,000 for the weekend.

But even if you had those passes at the real Coachella, wandering into an artist’s trailer is highly unlikely. First, you would need to scan your wristband to gain access to the artist compound, where the trailers are set up. Once you’re in there, it’s clear that the trailers belong to specific artists because they have signage posted on the doors. The top-billed artists’ trailers tend be more secluded.

And unlike in the movie, the real Coachella has a lot more security posted around the artist area so people don’t snap photos or, you know, wander inside a trailer to relieve themselves.

The moral of the story? Don’t expect to find true love in a Coachella bathroom — at least not one backstage.

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