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McCoy on Movies: One Day Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: One Day Movie Review
It's a best-selling book, and now it's hitting the big screen. But is
One Day a romantic holiday or a journey into relationship hell? Click here to find out!

 

 

"You know, love, if I hadn't seen all your other movies, I might forget you're an American actress doing an English accent." Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) shares a moment in the countryside with Dexter "Dex" Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) in a scene from Lone Scherfig's big screen adaption of David Nicholls' novel ONE DAY. Credit: Giles Keyte. TM and © 2011 Focus Features Inc. All rights reserved.

KEY CAST MEMBERS:
Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Rafe Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Romola Garai, Ken Stott and Georgia King
WRITER:
David Nicholls (novel & screenplay)
DIRECTOR: Lone Scherfig
WEBSITE:
http://focusfeatures.com/one_day
THE PLOT:
Directed by Academy Award nominee Lone Scherfig and written by David Nicholls, who also wrote the book on which the film is based, One Day stars Anne Hathaway as Emma Morley and Jim Sturgess as Dexter Mayhew. Despite attending the same college, the duo don't meet until July 15, 1988 - which just so happens to be St. Swithin's Day. Click this link for more information on the occasion. And as fate would have it, the two couldn't be more different, for Em is a simple working-class girl who views humor as overrated, and Dex is a playboy from an affluent background who enjoys wine, women and song (and not in that order), much to the chagrin of his mother (Patricia Clarkson) and father (Ken Stott).

 

After their impromptu meeting, the two engage in a formidable friendship, with many key moments in their relationship occurring on July 15. Regardless of how far apart physically they may be, Em and Dex are always there for one another for better and for worse. But over the course of the next 20 years, the duo comes to learn just how much one day can mean in the grand scheme of the rest of their lives.

 

THE TAKE: The late comedian Richard Jeni - named as one of the best 100 comedians of all time by Comedy Central - has several famous routines, two of them being about love songs and the reason men and women sometimes have trouble equally enjoying romantic movies, especially those about, as he so eloquently put it, "longing for a love that can never be."

 

In the case of One Day, that last line sums up the movie perfectly and in turn helps explain why the movie as a whole is as uneven as the relationship between its two main characters.

 

Let me say this up front: When I saw the poster for One Day, I could tell the movie was based on a book, and I didn't know the movie was based on a book prior to seeing the poster. Watching the opening sequence, I could tell what exactly was going to happen at the movie's climax, to the point I kept waiting for. For those who haven't read the book, take a guess what I'm not telling you. Such predictability keeps One Day from reaching its potential, but it is far from the only flaw hindering the film. For in addition to being able to tell where its star-crossed lovers individual lives and relationship together are heading, 99 percent of the time - despite the performances by Hathaway and Sturgess - showcase why the characters are inherently their own worst enemies.

 

Let me put it another way: You know you have that set of friends where everyone else in their circle is dating each other, but for one reason or another, one of them always finds some superficial reason to ruin what they could have together? That's Emma and Dexter. Instead of taking away a feeling of joy in their relationship, you leave with a thought of what could have been and what should have been. Now, I realize the way men and women view relationships can be very different and the value we put into our pasts affects us throughout the rest of our lives, but One Day almost serves as a how-to guide to not have healthy relationships. Additionally, when you watch the characters recognize what is making them unhappy and yet still continue to soldier on in such a fashion, it's hard to root for them to be together.

 

Side note: Where in the world are Em's parents throughout this whole long, drawn-out affair? Since the film has several other clichés in it, where are Em's supportive parents, female friends and/or cat that keep her company through her life?

 

Of course, it doesn't help that there are key moments in Em and Dex's relationship which are skipped over completely in the film, and some of the actions of the various characters are offered no real explanations and seem to occur solely for the purpose of causing a moment of conflict. Add in the way in which the secondary characters like Ian (Rafe Spall) and Sylvie (Romola Garai) are so one-dimensional that they are clearly not suited to be interacting with Em and Dex if they were real people, and it's really hard to buy in to One Day. That's not the actors' faults; that's the fault of the writer, who also wrote the book and has the obligation to make the characters translate well to the screen, and director Lone Scherfig.

 

You can go for the performances of Hathaway and Sturgess, but actors can only do so much with weak material, and even the best performer can't save a film that ultimately just leaves you with an "eh" feeling. It's not horrible, mind you, but it won't stir up any emotion to compel you to enjoy it unless you really like Hathaway, Sturgess and/or the book.

 

PARTING SHOT: The type of romantic film that adds to the negative term "chick flick" and tortures countless men on dates, One Day feels a lot longer than it is. The concept is great, but the execution falters in the details, just like most bad relationships.

 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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