One Day (Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess): Movie Review
David Nicholls has a reputation, albeit a rather small one, for delivering rich period detail in his drawn out relationship dramas. A novelist and screenwriter, his latest film One Day, directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, doesn’t feel as fresh as previous 1980s romp, Starter for Ten, but delivers the necessary romance promised on the poster.
Told through the narrative structure of one day, July 15th, every year from 1988 through 1997, the story follows recent college graduates Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Sturgess). An awkward attempt at a casual physical relationship soon morphs into a friendship though it is obvious Emma longs for more. As she struggles to find her place in the world, working at a sordid Mexican restaurant before settling into teaching then becoming a writer, Dexter launches into a career in television before burning out on drugs and women, but always keeping his eye on Emma.
The allure of Lone Scherfig in the director’s chair is a definite drawing card for this film; she was responsible for the delightful 2009 film An Education, an adaptation of Lynn Barber’s memoir written for the screen by Nick Hornby, who Nicholls is consistently compared to. Though capturing the 1960s on screen comes off as more romantic and lush compared to the less sophisticated 1980s and 1990s, Scherfig has captured the period well, even if it did mean using cheap signposts such as Corona’s Rhythm of the Night to herald in the 1990s portion of the film, a personal highlight for me.
While Jim Sturgess often cops some, unnecessary in my opinion, flack for his acting, I think it is Hathaway in this instance who throws the whole film off. Regardless of her wandering accent, that would be comical if it weren’t so distracting, it’s unfortunate to see a big name actress struggling with some pretty basic material. There’s little to no chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess, and while he is fortunate that for the majority of the film his character is supposed to be unlikeable, she is not so lucky in escaping a very mediocre performance. On the whole Sturgess delivers a charming performance as the troubled and torn Dexter, sure to have his female audience swooning.
Disappointing also is that while the ‘one day every year’ gives the narrative some structure it also excludes many of the more interesting happenings of these characters’ lives, including Dexter’s mother’s battle with a terminal illness. Such monumental events are given little time to worm into our hearts, and so the characters never truly earn our sympathy.
All that said, One Day will delight cinemagoers who are after one thing, romance. Despite Hathaway’s shonky accent and the questionable chemistry, once you give in to the charms the film has to offer you may find yourself falling and barracking for this unlikely couple. A definite Friday night out at the cinema or DVD night film, One Day will have many in tears before the credits roll.
3 / 5