Aug 24, 2011

Review: One Day

Director: Lone Scherfig
Release Date: 25 August 2011
Rating: (M)
Runtime: 107 mins

In so far as we can recommend romantic comedies, One Day most certainly ranks above average in the category, its two stars Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Way Back) and Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, Brokeback Mountain, Rachel's Wedding) sharing an easy on-screen chemistry; this in itself is a fine thing to witness as opposed to the oft-forced banter between Jennifer Anniston, Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl et al. Truth be told, Hathaway probably could have done with some extra tutelage with the accent coach, but it doesn't grate so much over the course of the film as it does in the theatrical trailer. We've downgraded our assessment from 'the ruination of all things holy' to simply 'there'. 

Based on the wonderfully witty novel by David Nicholls (who also penned the screenplay for this adaptation), One Day chronicles the development of the relationship between lovable cad Dexter Mayhew (Sturgess) and bookish, waspish Emma Morley over 20 years on the same day, July 15th. 

Sturgess and Hathaway decide: Chinese again or a curry?

While this device seems a relatively original concept and allows the viewer to feel as though we are viewing important snapshots, make no mistake that this is simply a device. Nicholls carries this through in the structure of the screenplay but unfortunately, here the pacing seems off, the narrative rushed, the sense of 'epic romance': lost. This is particularly problematic, when the build to the emotional crescendo resembles more of a gentle hill climb as opposed to a mountain trek, resulting in a lack of 'crash'.

However, going into One Day as a fan of Lone Scherfig's previous English-language effort, An Education, which so completely hit the mark and launched the career of Carey Mulligan: it was foolish. Our high expectations were dashed, especially so because the films share such blatant similarities: both are adaptations where the screenplay was written by a novelist (if not the novelist), both are British films, both are about young love (though the relationship in An Education offers greater complexity over a shorter timeframe).  

One Day offers very little of the style and glamour that An Education pulled off so easily, which applies not only to the clothes, but also the lighting and camera. The naturalistic, no nonsense 90s aesthetic wears thin very quickly and the images just start to look fuzzy in places: overall, the film was unremarkable to look at. 

Funny, but not in possession of the same vim and vigour the book virtually screams with, One Day was a structurally faithful book-to-film adaptation, but didn't add an extra layer to the story or further illuminate beloved characters. Never judge a film by its art-school, romantic-as-hell poster is all we'll say.


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