One Day

13 Sep

Title: One Day
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Lone Scherfig
Writer: David Nicholls, adapting from his own novel
Starring: 
Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall, Ken Stott, Jodie Whittaker
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, sexual content, partial nudity, language, some violence and substance abuse
Runtime: 
107 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 
37%

Look, the level of expectation from me for this film was actually pretty ridiculous. It was an adaptation from a novel I really loved, it was being directed by Lone Scherfig, who last did An Education, a huge personal favorite of mine, my third favorite film of 2009 and the one that introduced us all to the beautiful and talented Carey Mulligan. Thirdly, the film had roped in the extremely talented and gorgeous Anne Hathaway to play the female lead, and the very charming Jim Sturgess to be her male counterpart. So yeah, I wanted One Day to be a great adaptation, and all the pieces for that to happen were seemingly there, and even though the film obviously keeps the cool narrative twists of the book, it just doesn’t manage to capture the sheer emotion and depth offered by its great source material, and that was a real pity to me, both as a audience of this film and as a reader of the novel.

The film, like the book, is about taking a look at the fates of two star-crossed people who’s fates seem to be destined to cross time and time again, and we take a look at their lives from 1988, as they have just graduated from university, to pretty much the present day, as they are heading into middle life. The catch is that we look at only one day, July 15th, of each of those years, and thus we must see their lives, and their relationship, evolve, one day of a year at a time. And that’s a very smart device, by the way, because the fact that we come into the film with the understanding that we will only get every July 15th as they drop into each other’s lives means that a lot of things can take place off-screen and that we’ll accept it because what we have to care about here is not so much the events itself, but the accumulating effects those events have on these two people.

These two people are Emma and Dex, played of course by Ms. Hathaway and Mr. Sturgess. He is upper-class, she is middle-class. He gets a swanky television producer job right away, she becomes a waitress. He becomes successful really fast but it all starts fading away as he realizes there wasn’t much of substance going on in his life, she starts off in a less stellar way but slowly becomes successful because she really believed in herself. The movie really does make a point as to define their differences in character. You know how those things go, the different people who seem to be joined by destiny, a destiny that, intentionally or accidentally, keeps bringing them together every July 15th for a periodic update on how their lives have been going. He marries, she has a guy herself, life-changing stuff is happening for 364 days of the year like it would to anyone, but on that one day there’s a routine to follow.

And as such One Day takes the job of getting this episodic tale, this story about very loyal friends and almost-loves, to become some sort of meaningful collection of feelings and emotions. And even though there are a couple of moments here that really do work, that really are surprising and worth holding on to, I just though that in the end the film made most of them look like stuff we have seen too many times before and you can’t really invest in that. And the movie tells the story in a typical rom-com way, and that’s cool because at least it’s one that’s set in all sorts of beautiful places, and that starts two beautiful people that have a truly undeniable chemistry with each other, though the less said about Ms. Hathaway’s British accent the better. But I don’t know, there was something missing here for me, maybe it was the fact that I’ve read the novel and I know what’s was sacrificed in the film version, I don’t know, I just needed more here.

Lone Scherfig is a good director, that much is true, and she does embed a very needed charm and patience to this film, and she actually makes the moments during which these two are apart just as good, if not even better, than the ones in which they’re together, and it’s really the rhythm she brings to the procedures and her quirky eye that makes One Day much better than it otherwise would have been. But still, this was emotionally unbalanced to me, some stuff rocked, some stuff didn’t, Mr. Sturgess will no doubt still become the new Hugh Grant and Ms. Hathaway, horrible accent and all, was still insanely appealing here, gorgeous as always. But it just didn’t click for me.

As for whether I would recommend One Day or not, I’ll actually say I would, however mildly. I would because if you’re a fan of the book then you’ll no doubt be curious to see it, even if it ultimately isn’t of your liking all that much, and if you haven’t read the book and you think you want to see a romantic film, well you certainly could do much worse than this one, because this one at least has style and it feels fresh and it counts with some nice witty dialogue. How much you like or dislike this film will probably come from your opinion of the ending though, you may find it moving as easily as you may find it excessive and think it ruined whatever charming stuff it had spent the past hour and a half constructing. That’s an opinion for you to form on your own, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would and that’s a pity, but maybe that’s because I was hoping for another An Education all along.

Grade: B-

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