Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The Stars: Jim Sturgess, Anne Hathaway, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall, Ken Stott, Patricia Clarkson.
The Story: Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Sturgess) officially meet in 1988 after their college graduation. A few drinks later, they end up in Emma's dorm and nearly hook up on their first night together. Ultimately, the pair chooses to forge a friendship instead; a turbulent, bittersweet relationship that spans almost two decades. Bookish, insecure Emma can't be more different from over-confident, charming Dexter, but they end up constantly on the fringes of each other's lives, through heartache, success and eventually, love.
The Buzz: Adapted from David Nicholls' literary sleeper hit of the same name, One Day is directed by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig. The quirky helmer's impressive resume includes internationally acclaimed rom-com Italian for Beginners and Oscar nominated indie An Education.
inSing.com thinks: Author/Screen writer David Nicholls has a knack for nailing these youthful coming-of-age stories like no other 40-something British male. His debut effort, Starter for Ten, which was coincidentally adapted for the big screen too, was thoroughly delightful with an absolutely winsome performance by a then lesser-known James McAvoy. And despite the fact that One Day deviates slightly more from the original novel than Starter for Ten, it still manages to hold onto most of the magic from the book.
With her recently svelte frame and perfect skin, it's quite a stretch to imagine Hathaway as dowdy, geeky Emma. Admirable attempts at playing up the emotional nuances of her character notwithstanding, her portrayal seems to lack a certain rawness and edge that would have rendered Emma's neurotics believable. Her embarrassingly clumsy Yorkshire accent is also every bit as cringe-worthy as critics have been making it out to be. Sure Hathaway is a decent actress, and unlike many of her Hollywood peers, actually looks like she's putting in effort for her roles. Sadly, her general wholesomeness doesn't play out well, particularly when fleshing out Emma's maturity over the years.
Fortunately, Sturgess (21, Across The Universe) applies himself a lot more successfully as Dexter; from carefree adolescent to jaded divorcee, he elegantly finds the sweet spots in his performance and juggles heartbreak and heartfelt with surprisingly honest sincerity. So much that when the shocker somewhere towards the end of the film careens round the corner, your soul shatters a little bit with him.
The film's cinematography is prettiness personified, and the backdrops ease luxuriously from countryside to city, and throughout the various time frames. Although when you strip One Day of its stylized vesture, it's really a rather unassuming, captivating story of two people growing in love and learning from each other in life. Bottom line? You'll want to have some Kleenex handy for this one.