One Day

Released: 2011
Director: Lone Scherfig
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess

Good enough, but lacking the soul of the book


David Nicholls’ novel One Day was a massive hit a couple of years ago. The story of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew has enchanted readers worldwide so it wasn’t a massive surprise when a film adaptation was announced.

The movie stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, and follows the same structure as the book. The twenty year relationship between Dexter and Emma is told through the events of just one day – 15th July, each year.  Emma is a working-class Yorkshire girl with strong principles who is frustrated, amused and enchanted by Dexter, a laid-back middle class boy from the Home Counties. We watch their lives unfold with relationships and marriages to other people and wait for them to discover what we know. They are made for each other.

I enjoyed the book a lot, and recommended it recently in my ‘Summer Book-buying Spree‘ feature, but I wasn’t a massive fan clutching Emma and Dexter to my heart as though they were real. I went into the movie with an open mind, looking forward to Nicholls’ own adaptation of the novel.

The film is merely on the good side of average which is a pity given the source material. Visiting each year for only one day feels fresh and clever in the novel but becomes wearisome in the film and the way the years flash up on screen is tiring by the tenth occurrence.

The two leads are fine. Jim Sturgess is great as Dexter. He neatly encapsulates the swagger, arrogance and vulnerability of the character.  Anne Hathaway is very good in virtually every film she stars, but not this one. She has a lot of charm and that stops the performance from falling totally flat, but she seemed utterly detached from what was going on around her. And then the accent. It was nice and plummy, and as far removed from working class Yorkshire as I can imagine. Hathaway claims she learned the accent by watching Emmerdale. I can only assume that was the little known spin-off ‘Emmerdale: The Berkshire Years’.

The supporting cast is mostly anonymous. Ken Stott is the exception as Dexter’s Dad, putting in the strongest performance of the entire film. He is on-screen for about ten minutes in total, but he dominates every frame in which he appears. There’s a nice scene with Rafe Spall and Jim Sturgess but for the most part the support is merely background.

I adored some of the music and I might have to pick up a copy of the soundtrack. Fat Boy Slim, Tears for Fears and S Club 7 – perfect for a pop lover like me!  Jim Sturgess gets to sport a revolving door of bad fashion from the 80’s and 90’s but Anne Hathaway seems to be stuck in the same dress for about a decade and that’s no fun.

The book is a modern classic full of heart and emotion. Unfortunately these are missing from the big-screen adaptation. Loyal fans of the novel are likely to be disappointed. People who haven’t read the book are likely to wonder what all the fuss is about.

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  1. Hathaway’s accent was so all over the place that it completely put me off watching this movie.

  2. Great Review! Sturgess and Hathaway are fun to watch together, but the rest of the film just feels like a gimmick that was done wrong, and brings nothing new at all to the conventions of the romantic drama. Check out my review when you can!

  3. Neil Wheeler says:

    This was the only book Karen and I have both read.
    I loved the book, very intreguing concept. Am off to see this tomorrow (30/08/11) sounds like I shall be disappointed :(

    • It’s not a bad film but the concept just doesn’t transfer very well…

      • Neil Wheeler says:

        Oh dear, where do I start?
        The film wasnt bad, in fact better then i imagined.
        Whilst major plots from the book were either skimmed over or dropped completely, it sort of defragmented the plot slightly.
        That being said, my biggest gripe is this:- The film should have been titled “Anne Hathaway, Around the UK in 20 Accents”

        It all started so well, with a very well spoken Berkshire accent. Inexplicably she steps into a phone box to call Dexter in France and produces a rather bizarre Derby / Manchester accent – this evolves to include, Bolton, Yorkshire, Surrey etc it became a distraction in the end
        That aside my small other gripe was the absence of a plot line that revolved around the affair with the Head Teacher, in the book it made Emma seem falible and human – sadly in the film she did not

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