Movie Review: ‘One Day’ feels like decades

Tom Andrew

Gorgeous locations, beautiful cinematography, and a lush soundtrack cannot compensate for a bad script, bad editing, and unfortunate miscasting.

“One Day” is the story of Emma and Dexter who share a night together on July 15, 1988, which also happens to be their college graduation day. The film follows their relationship for 20 years on the anniversary of their first meeting. Sometimes they are together on that date and sometimes they are not.

They grow together and they grow apart. They experience love, life, jobs, successes and failures over those 20 years.

Some are joyous and some not so. But they always seem to somehow end up communicating or attempting to on that day.

The screenplay is based on the much-adored novel of the same name, and was written by David Nicholls, who also wrote the book.

Fans of the book, like most film adaptations, should let the book and film stand on their own.

Rarely do we ever see a film based on a book that turns out to be as good or better than the book.

The film, on it’s own, has it’s flaws; fatal ones in fact.

Anne Hathaway stars as Emma. It’s not that Hathaway can’t act.

We’ve seen her in a few good roles when she’s not trying so hard to find something that will be potential Oscar gold. This is not one of those roles.

Hathaway’s English accent is passable, but over the course of the film’s 20 years, she only goes from being frumpy to being stylish.

She doesn’t age in actions or in looks. She never finds who Emma is, and it shows.

The role of Dexter is played by Englishman, Ashton Kutcher-ish Jim Sturgess.

His acting style goes from a carefree 20something to a maudlin and withdrawn 40something. At least he ages better than Hathaway, but perhaps too much.

Sturgess and Hathaway have moments.

Moments that show us this could have been a better film, but it isn’t.

The editing is choppy. The writing is clunky. Casting Americans to play English doesn’t work here. They seem to be trying too hard to convince us that they are English. Even the usually wonderful Patricia Clarkson fails miserably as Dexter’s mother. She seems even more out of place than Hathaway.

The cinematography is beautiful, gorgeous in fact. Benoit Delhomme (“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”) definitely knows his way around a camera and it’s apparent.

The original music by Rachael Portman is also inspiring and haunting.

Director Lone Scherfig, best known for the wonderful “An Education”, seems overwhelmed with the 20 year time span and making each individual year/scene work as independent moments that should stick out in our minds.

Sadly, we are left wishing we’d hit the 20 year mark much sooner than we do.

2.5 stars out of 5.