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January 11, 2012

5

One Day

by Franz Patrick


One Day (2011)
★ / ★★★★

On July 15, 1988, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) graduated from university. They were ecstatic because, like most graduates, they were convinced that the world was ripe for their picking. Emma strived to be poetess/writer in London. Dexter was uncertain but he had plans of vacationing/teaching English abroad. Over the course of twenty-something years, the film, based on the novel and screenplay by David Nicholls, checked in on them on the same day each year. While its premise was interesting, the storytelling was disjointed and unconvincing. What Dexter and Emma had was supposed to be an example of a deep friendship. After all, they pined to see or call each other when something important happened in their lives. However, there was a drought of clues in terms whether or not they even saw or heard from each other on any other day except July 15. As a result, as each year passed by, it became increasingly difficult to buy into what they supposedly had. After all, deep friendships are also rooted in going through ordinariness together. Emma had a crush on Dexter even before they formally met. While understandable because he commanded great hair that seemed to come out of a high fashion magazine, Dexter was almost completely charmless. His jokes felt more like personal jabs and he was an unapologetically hedonistic womanizer. He’d go in the direction, without careful thought for the feelings of others, that made him feel good the most. So how could we feel sympathy for him when his career as a television presenter reached a screeching halt? And why did Emma want to continue seeing him for as long as she did? The most obvious answer is that she enjoyed being heartbroken. This was disloyal to her character who initially smart, funny, and always strived to be independent. The best part of the film was Dexter’s mother (Patricia Clarkson) and her struggles of dealing with cancer and watching her son traverse the path of self-destruction. Clarkson wasn’t given much screen time but each time she was on screen, she provided a fiery complexity that the material desperately needed. When the mother looked at her son, I stared in her eyes and I couldn’t fully determine what took more energy out of her: Was it her illness combined with the chemotherapy or was it her son being blind to the fact he was so far from what he hoped he’d become? Unfortunately, Emma’s parents were nowhere to be found. I wanted to know how they saw their daughter other than a one-dimensional sweet girl, occasionally sporting a great haircut circa 2003, with nice dreams. I waited and hoped that someone practical would just bluntly tell her to snap out of her fantasies and remind her that aging comes hand-in-hand with prioritizing. The fact is, you can’t wait for a man or woman until he or she sees something in you. “One Day,” directed by Lone Scherfig, was supposed to be romantic and inspiring but it was ultimately masochistic. Much of its criticisms had something to do with Hathaway’s English accent. It had bigger problems than that. It’s a movie made for women but I’m afraid it doesn’t have much respect for them beyond the surface level.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 11 2012

    Yes, my husband and I watched this two nights ago and I have to say you are spot on with your observations. I considered it a huge waste of time. Looking back I believe what he said about the day was supposed to be foreshadowing but we really didn’t get that and tragedy struck out of the blue causing it to feel anti-climatic.

    Reply
    • Jan 13 2012

      I agree, the tragedy felt anticlimactic and, in a lot of ways, cheap. I couldn’t buy it at all.

      Reply
  2. Matt Stewart
    Jan 11 2012

    That’s funny… I was actually looking forward to this one… not so much now ;) good review Franz! I’ll probably end up catching this one on my 2011 movie marathon before the Oscars haha.

    Reply
    • Jan 13 2012

      I will be happy to read your take on it. I wanted to like it because I’m a fan of both actors both even they couldn’t save this one.

      Reply
  3. Jan 11 2012

    I watched this film in cinema months back. I picked this film to watch largely because there were no decent ones at that time available. I did not like it at all. I found Dexter really annoying. I agree with Cherilyn this film is a complete waste of time.

    Reply

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