Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Day

The classical love story- guy and girl must overcome all of these obstacles, including themselves, that are preventing them from being together, but no matter what they somehow fall in love and live happily ever after until death or at least the end of the movie. With One Day, Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) first meet in July of 1988. We check in on them every year for the next twenty or so years to see how they are doing. What started out as a flirtation leads to friction which leads to love and going back-and-forth and so on and so on...

This is the kind of story that I can see working better in a novel (and it is based on one by the film's screenwriter, David Nicholls, who also wrote the novel and screenplay for Starter for 10). I'm not familiar with the source material, but in a novel there is a lot of space for instrospection where we can better understand characters and their motivations. Here, the explanations for why Dex and Emma act the way they do are weak. They were pretty much born with their flaws and somehow they overcome them as time passes, but we don't really see that. That is the pro and con of the plot device of witnessing a day once every year, we miss out on unnecessary moments, but I wonder if seeing the characters undergo what happens off-screen would be helpful in understanding some of what I can't seem to grasp.

Either way, I end up taking a lot of the movie as arbitrary. Emma is scholarly while Dex is a rich playboy. Emma rises in her career as a writer while Dex falls in his career as a talk show host. Their lives mirror each other for the sake of mirroring each other. Dex acts like Dex because he is Dex and Emma acts like Emma because she is Emma. They undergo some change, but it is all inevitable and predictable when it shouldn't be. In fact, I take more issue with the story than other viewers did with Hathaway's accent. It isn't the best, but eventually I start to ignore that (I'm more impressed at American actress Patricia Clarkson's spot-on "British-isms"). The chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess isn't half-bad as they are both talented performers, but the characters they are playing only share some quips every now and then and I'm supposed to somehow believe that through their moaning that they will one day be the perfect couple?

Director Lone Scherfig mastered taking a dialogue-heavy script and providing it with the right tone in her previous romance-drama, An Education. As a follow-up to that, this was quite a let-down. Sure, it looked nice at points, but the characters are too one-dimensional and typical for anything to really latch on to. My issue is not sympathizing or relating to them, but feeling anything for them at all.

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