The ever improving Anne Hathaway here teams with An Education director Lone Scherfig and Jim Sturgess to tackle David Nicholls bestselling novel which tracks the progress of a man and woman who almost get together on the night of their university graduation, from there the story follows them on the same date 15 July every year. The pair remain best friends throughout as we see their seperate lives unfold. So we see Emma (Hathaway) making ends meet at a dead end Mexican restaurant while waiting for someone to publish her poetry, she gets into a loveless relationship with a struggling stand up (Rafe Spall), meanwhile Dexter (Sturgess) becomes a minor celebrity on a cheesy late night talk show, but is dragged down by alcohol and sleeping around.
This is a decent attempt to film a difficult novel, with impressive performances by the two leads, Hathaway and Sturgess have sparky chemistry and get across that sense of two people who confide everything in one another while secretly wanting to be with one another, like when they causally flirt with one another. Too much has been made of Hathaway’s Yorkshire accent (or lack there of) she doesn’t quite get it, but the idea that they should have just cast a English actress is silly, she is a good actress and was chosen to play Emma because she was considered a good fit for the part Yorkshire accent or not. There are a fine array of supporting talent who add substance to the drama such as Patricia Clarkson who is very moving as Dexter’s dying mother, Spall almost steals the film in an entertaining, but tragic portrayal and Romola Garai is as solid as ever, although these are slightly underwritten parts. I also found myself having a fairly good time watching One Day, Hathaway once again proves that she is a quick witted, sharp comedian and there are some nicely executed set pieces.
The problem is in the writing, firstly the structure just does not come off on film, if it was not for the fact that they flashed the year up onscreen you would struggle to know just where you were, also there is not enough to make the passing of time stand out, they just toss in some relevant references and change the fashion and music slightly. The pacing feels rushed also; of course there is a problem with just covering the same day every twenty years, so maybe the film needed to give us more context into the relationships. The key flaw for me however was that the Dexter character was very self-loathing all the way through, and that Emma was a very charming and self aware character who I didn’t feel would put up with him for as long as she did, let alone potentially enter into a relationship with him. On the whole there was not enough invested in their conflict, and Scherfig who was a solid pair of hands in An Education gives rather flat direction here.
So the cast do their best and make it an enjoyable watch at times, the film has its moments, but ultimately fails to bring the book to life.
Director: Lone Scherfig
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson
Runtime: 108 min