Directed by Lone Scherfig. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess.
I watched this film in London in September alone in an empty theatre and I remember being bored to death at the interminable story spanning over 20 years! But after watching it again this week I did manage to find some charm, wit and even a soupçon of heart in this book-to-movie adaptation.
Chronicling a friendship that survives to bloom into love right from the late 80′s to 2011, One Day is about how Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet after graduation on July 15th 1988, stop short of having sex but make a pact to stay in touch invariably on the same date (15th July) every year then on. And of course, each ‘episode’ day is infused with something special, a bond that grows between them and also a rift that drags them apart, through their own live’s trials and tribulations.
Emma wants to write but ends up waitressing, pining a bit for Dex and getting into something with the wrong guy: Ian played by a gummy and scruffy Rafe Spall. Dexter starts off charming, wealthy and intelligent but ends up hosting a vulgar TV show, usually half drunk and half drugged. His mother played by Patricia Clarkson is ailing from cancer and tells him: “You’re not a nice person anymore.” Lonely and directionless, Dex’s only sanctuary ends up being Emma who he still takes for granted and mocks for not making a better life for herself. Perhaps it’s his own disillusionment and disappointment that he’s projecting on her but from skinny dipping on a ‘friendly’ vacation together to growing apart, they both ultimately achieve a little bit of happiness in their lives. Still, over 20 years of friendship and flirting is ultimately seen by them both as a lot stronger than most of the things they spent time on so far.
The dialogue is witty, in typically Brit style. Jim Sturgess as the playboy who loses his way fits the bill perfectly. Anne Hathaway, with a pair of Harry Potter-type spectacles and a strange English accent that doesn’t hold steady through the film isn’t the best choice but fine actress that she is, Anne pulls through it all with a dorky elan. The relationship between Dex and his father (Ken Stott) is a small but integral and heartening part of the film.
Credit must go to director Lone Scherfig. She has managed to fit in all 20 days from the book this film is based on (by writer David Nicholls, also screenwriter here) into the one hour and forty-minute run time. But, let me just say that that short period really does feel like 20 years! You may just end up wishing the movie stayed true to the film’s title or that they changed the name to 20 Days.
Still, One Day is suitably charming, amiably touching and masterfully sweet to warrant a romantic (don’t go alone, you’ll be bored stiff) date night out.