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Movie Reviews

One Day



Reviewed by: Jessica Leech

Released: 9th April 2010

Directed by: Lone Scherfig

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson

Certificate: 12

One Day is the big screen adaptation of the internationally bestselling novel of the same name. It has an interesting premise; the story spans 20 years, following the friendship and slow-blossoming romance of Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess). However, the film only visits them once a year, on July 15th, the date of their first encounter.

It begins in 1996, with a brief introduction to Emma, before rewinding back to the same day 18 years earlier. It is the early hours of the morning following Emma’s graduation from Edinburgh University, and she invites a drunken, disheveled Dexter back to her flat, where they engage in an awkward almost-fumble. They are very different people, but somehow forge a connection.

The film revisits them every July for the next 18 years. We see Emma flourish as a successful teacher and writer after escaping a stale marriage, paralleled with Dexter’s career as a TV presenter nosediving into a drug and alcohol fueled haze, before settling down as a husband to an unfaithful wife. Despite a few touching moments, the middle section of the film drags a little. I’m pretty sure that the audience is supposed to see that Emma and Dexter are unconditional soulmates destined to be together in spite of life’s obstacles, but quite frankly, I wasn’t feeling it. The romantic chemistry was lacking at times, and the disjointed storytelling approach did nothing to help. This is clearly an approach that doesn’t translate to film as well as it needed to.

Sturgess is accomplished as the arrogant Dexter, and succeeds in showing the vulnerability of this bad boy character. Hathaway’s performance seems stifled, as though it could have been a brilliant performance had it been given some breathing space. The scenes are simply too rushed for Hathaway to really shine, though she does a great job with Emma’s witty banter. I have a lot of respect for Hathaway as an actor, but I can’t help but feel that this wasn’t the perfect role for her. I couldn’t connect with her character, rarely empathised with her, and generally just didn’t really care. Plus, her accent grated on my nerves. It sounded too forced, too Mary Poppins and occasionally slightly northern (although, I’m unsure where the character is supposed to originate from; this may be deliberate). Distracting, to say the least.

The book sold millions of copies in over 40 countries, and having not read it I can only assume that it was a literary triumph. If this is the case, fans of the novel are likely to be disappointed. The film succumbed to the pitfalls of failed novel-turned-movies; it clearly struggled to fit the story into the two hour timeframe and unfortunately ended up feeling superficial and underdeveloped. The shock ending is well presented, but perhaps should have come about half an hour sooner.

One Day attempts to be one of those emotionally rich stories about mistakes, friendship and love, but just doesn’t quite get there. I only wish that I had given it a miss and read the book instead.

25 year old film fanatic who loves rock music, Xbox and cat videos on Youtube. I also tweet @lewisvstheworld

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