By Erykah Brackenbury. After a failed attempt at coitus, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) agree to remain friends. One Day visits their lives on every 15 July.
By Erykah Brackenbury
After a failed attempt at coitus,
Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) agree to remain friends.
One Day visits their lives on every 15 July. A contrived premise that works on
the page is contorted for the screen so it naturally transpires that all the
significant events in the two’s lives conveniently happen on the same day each
A concept such as this can
only work with chemistry between its leads. The lacklustre bonhomie between
Hathaway and Sturgess makes the former’s Oscar telecast look like a Tracy/Hepburn
production. Quite why Emma and Dexter spend the next two decades following
their graduation pining after one another is never entirely made clear as for
most of the film he’s a twat and she’s insipid. Any comedy from the novel is
lost in favour of the interminable will-they-won’t-they (or more, WHEN will
they, given the predictable nature of the plot).
For all this purports to
be a film about two people, it is really about Dexter. His drug-fuelled
hedonistic twenties lead to an inevitable downfall and his redemption is a far
more believable and compelling (if well-worn) narrative than Emma’s conveniently
meteoric rise to success. While the novel explores the ephemeral nature of
youthful dreams and the destruction of hope as one ages, the film’s main
message is that booze and drugs are bad, ok kids? Even if you do happen to have
a dying mother to blame all your problems on.
Dexter is at least a
fully-fleshed character, whilst Emma is reduced to a series of wry bons mots
and toothy grinning. Thankfully the supporting cast pick up the slack. Rafe Spall’s Ian is easily the best
thing in the film: a Star Trek-obsessed failing comedian who can’t quite
believe his luck in pulling someone who looks like Anne Hathaway.
Hathaway is woefully
miscast as a supposedly ordinary looking girl from Yorkshire. Director Lone Scherfig’s
attempts to transform Hathaway into an ugly duckling consist of Harry Potter
glasses and a bad haircut. Needless to say, this doesn’t work. As with every
ugly duckling story, we of course get the clichéd moment where our main
characters suddenly realise Emma Morley is suddenly one of the most beautiful
women in the world, purely through the stunning transformation of contact
lenses and some expensive conditioner. Considering even moron-porn Not Another Teen Movie cack-handedly
spoofed this trope an entire decade ago, it’s a lazy and ill-considered device
to generate some sympathy towards Emma. Allegedly crippled by low self esteem, her
attempts to gain self confidence feel smug when coming from human tree frog
Hathaway’s accent wanders
all over the British Isles, plus the odd cross-Atlantic trip. This defeats the novel’s
original point of distinguishing Emma’s humble background with Dexter’s
privilege. Things take an even more surreal turn where we are invited to laugh
at Dexter’s adoption of a mockney accent. This, for all its idiocy, is still
infinitely better than Hathaway’s attempts at pretending to be English.
The smug middle-classness
of the film is rather overbearing, with Emma striving to achieve what Dexter
was born into. For a film covering twenty years and endless supporting
characters, it is also astonishingly white. Perhaps just a surprising oversight
by the casting director, but the idea that Emma and Dexter are secretly white
supremacists would have made for a far more interesting narrative.
Despite the dodgy accents
and even dodgier casting decisions, the film is well-directed. Little quirks by
Scherfig capture the changing of time beautifully and she coaxes Edinburgh into
putting in a more nuanced and believable performance than the two leads.
Fans of weepy romances
such as The Notebook will probably
adore this, but for most it’s worth a miss. A lack of much-needed humour and
charm makes this a rather dull experience.