Plot: After drunkenly hooking up on the night of their university graduation, Emma and Dexter promise each other that they will see each other again. The story follows their lives and the relationships of the two on the same day every year for 20 years. Based on the best-selling book of the same name by David Nicholls.
Thoughts: In a world in which no film’s success is certain, producers and studios turn always to previously recognised material with the most successful and best-selling of the lot sent straight to the top of the pile, no matter how incoherent or illogical the adaptation may be. This is the biggest and most painfully obvious hurdle Lone Scherfig’s ‘One Day’ fails to overcome.
With a deflated budget and a running time of a little less than 110 minutes, David Nicholls had his work cut out for him adapting his rather epic romance for the screen. It’s no surprise that many of the novel’s most admired scenes are missing due to their vague connection to the character’s eventual outcomes, but in stripping down a lot of the dialogue too, Nicholls sacrifices an entire boat-load of emotion felt for his characters. Line after line fades from the page and little is left but the very bare bones of the ballad, bones which simply allow the story to be told in its most obvious and straight-forward form.
Whilst mindlessly hopping from year to year almost haphazardly, many of the key moments and vital chemistry which binds the tale together are shredded, Nicholls’ own screenplay failing to fully update the viewer and visually conquer one of the finest written romances of the 21st century. Scherfig’s quick cutting and “inventive” titling will too skewer certain perceptions and confuse many as the years tick by so quickly, with many a simple blink and you’d have missed it. Put simply, not enough is packed into each snippet of the couple’s lives to fully care about any of the characters enough to warrant any form of positive emotion. What Nicholls’ book did so well was to slowly clue the reader as to the rich and rocky pasts of Dexter and Emma and build this entirely realistic world in which their oscillating romance is torn apart and sewn back together almost continuously. The film acts as nothing more than a dry visual interpretation of many of the key elements of the book, nothing truly feels real enough to grasp and with the speed of the film ticking on, many may feel that they’ve accidentally sat on the fast-forward button.
Talented young British actor Jim Sturgess fills the lovably arrogant Armani boots of Dexter rather joyfully, playing off of the character’s early disregard for anything but style, his energy slowly fading as Dexter ages and grows up into something Sturgess clearly fails to recognise. He sees two characters: young Dexter and old Dexter, his performance showing no link between the two leaving the feeling that the once conceited young hot-shot has not developed at all and instead been replaced all together with a more homeless looking grey-haired clone.
Then, in a turn of absolute villainy by the producers, well known Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway takes to the stage as Emma, a lovably nerdy and sarcastic young Yorkshire girl. Although her development from cynically challenging graduate to stylishly sweet author is more obvious, Hathaway truly butchers any chance of recognition by painfully attempting to replicate Emma’s Yorkshire accent, an experience that most will attempt to blank from their memory almost immediately after the credits roll. There’s small glimmers of hope amongst her rough and unmastered tones but Hathaway’s blatantly failed attempt at truly “becoming” her character not only distracts the viewer but also shamefully murders some of the most memorable and quotable lines on show. Beloved excerpts brushed over without any thought or effort to truly project them. Both Sturgess and Hathaway show glimpses of charisma and charm, but the vague connection felt through the writing quickly fades and evaporates into nothing more than pointless flirting.
The supporting cast are mostly acceptable, a surprisingly adorable Rafe Spall stealing most of the limelight as the painfully washed-over comedian Ian, but like the leads, the sinful lack of timing and pacing destroys any chance of chemistry or connection within minutes.
However, the true villain of the piece is it’s formerly celebrated Danish director Lone Scherfig. Many scenes are sliced to pieces by off-set camera angles, shoddy editing and a sickeningly fast pace and her clearly uncaring attitude towards the true surprise of the film leads to an underwhelming and predictable reveal. Within seconds of the film beginning, fans of the book will be mortified at Scherfig’s blatant disregard for the source material and even her inability to simply make an entertaining film.
Overall, to fans of the novel, ‘One Day’ is a cinematic atrocity. A true butchering of one of the finest pieces of literature published within the 21st century. Likable performances are morphed into spiteful piles of garbage, humorously heart-warming relationships are viciously stamped on and heartbreaking revelations are annihilated before your very eyes. As far as adaptations go, this is sure to be ranked as one of the worst and even for those who are unfamiliar with the original material, the frankly disgraceful story-telling and fruitless attempts at romance will be sure to make you weep with hatred.
If for some reason you hate yourself enough to sit through this abomination, either hammer a rusty iron nail into each ear or bring ear-plugs… no one, no matter how depressed or suicidal deserves to listen to Hathaway’s ungodly Yorkshire accent.