One Day

By Moira Sullivan

Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway
Lone Scherfig’s One Day is a film that spans 20 years involving two young people who are first friends and then brief lovers and then friends and then lovers and finally spouses. Anne Hathaway plays Emma Morley, a young college student who sees herself as a wallflower when in truth she is dynamic, funny and brilliant. She hooks up with the playful Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) who goes for all the cute girls that are nowhere close to the charm and depth of Emma. Emma indeed is Dexter’s best friend and she always wants more than he is capable of. In the novel by the same name written by David Nicholls, part of the antagonism between the two is based on class differences. Emma seems reconciled to the fact that she never will make enough money and will have to settle on men that are far less exciting than Dexter. 

Blue Blooded Dexter could have anything he wants but decides against his mother's wishes played by Patricia Clarkson to do something useful. Instead, he goes on an airhead TV show, which works fine while he is young, but in time he is too old to play the part and his life starts to unravel. His good fortune turns into personal disaster. But there is always Emma he can rely on, and they manage to stay in touch through the years. Whereas the physical changes that Emma goes through seem upbeat, Dexter’s changes have a lot to do with gaining or losing hair. Indeed the couple makes a splendid pair, but we can only admire them as spectators. Of course, much is there in the book that the film is based on and one suspects this when there is more to the story than meets the eye.

A film based on a novel is a special breed and yet we have no right to demand that a film be faithful to the original source to be a superior product. Witness the Potter films that never seemed to disappoint fans, but The Golden Compass angered others so that there was only one film made based on the novels of Phillip Pullman. It is hard to make a film that spans two decades, so cars, hairstyles, music and fashion speak the loudest.

Danish director Lone Scherfig who made An Education (2009) has taken on another English property and shows with skill how to tell a moving story with just the right touches. And Anne Hathaway shows once against what a talented actress she is and she pretty much steals every scene she is in.

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - 8/18/11
Movie Magazine International