One Day (2011)

Emma sort of has a crush on this guy who once got her name wrong at a cocktail party. His name is Dexter and after graduating on July 15, 1988, they fall in friendship over a failed attempt at sex and promise to remain friends at university. Over the next twenty-odd years, witnessed through scenes from twenty-odd separate St. Swithin’s Days, Emma and Dexter go through numerous ups and downs as their lives intercut and intermittently drift apart, taking them from Edinburgh to London to France and from one substitute romance to the next.

OK, so here’s the thing: you know One Day – David Nicholls best-selling 2009 novel that is uniformly loved by everyone? Yeah, I kind of never read it. Sorry.

I did see the movie, however, and while I might therefore qualify as one of those people I can tell you that it was really rather good. Bravo Mr. Nicholls, your cherished characters appear to have survived translation to the big screen with their integrity and – most surprisingly – their humanity intact.

While One Day: The Movie has its problems – the male lead is massively unlikeable for approximately all of the running-time and the gimmicky structure counter-effectively robs the narrative of any truly gut-wrenching punch – it is wholly delightful and refreshingly honest (emotionally, of course. It is still about as true to life as Star Wars). Nor a sex-comedy or garishly post-modern, One Day has a timeless feel about it which aids its relatability greatly and gives it a wonderful earnestness that is (*ahem* admittedly) sorely missed at the box office.

While the Edinburgh setting has its own, more personal implications for my own enjoyment (Arthur’s Seat – swoon!), it also means that we’re not chasing our heroine through the streets of NYC come the trite and predictable-from-the-first-second-of-the-trailer conclusion. In fact, in taking its audience on a short tour of Europe the film has a welcomingly unique feel that is thankfully saved the smug, self-actualised tosh so relentlessly mis-articulated by last year’s Eat Pray Love.

More than just opening the windows and letting its audience have a bit of a sight-see, however, One Day also uses the book’s aforementioned structural quirk to undo the belt of time and let the story breathe. Rather than love at first prat-fall, Lone Scherfig’s adaptation whips up a decidedly less conventional tale of love, lust and friendship that exercises the tear ducts with a vigour its peers rarely aim for, let alone achieve.

Anne Hathaway is absolutely adorable as the inconsistently accented Emma, a female lead who is sympathetic without being mercilessly incapable. Jim Sturgess, meanwhile, is utterly repulsive as the irritatingly arrogant Dexter; he is, however, fearless in the role and utterly, utterly compelling as a result. That said, it is Patricia Clarkson who steals the film as the strikingly tear-worthy mother of Dexter, while The Hour‘s Romola Garai aptly cements herself in the role of my new Favourite Person Ever.

Moving, innovative and featuring not one but two scenes atop Arthur’s Seat, One Day is a return to traditional form for the romantic genre, refreshingly devoid of bouquets of carrots, period mixes or a historical setting. Boasting a great cast, an absolutely joyous soundtrack and a coupling that doesn’t make you want to throw up all over your own crushing loneliness, One Day is as close to perfection as it is possible to get with such an inherently flawed and fleeting narrative structure.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to One Day (2011)

  1. Pingback: September 2011 – What, there are no good sharks? « popcornaddict

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