One Day (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/08/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

Impressively directed and sharply written, this is an engaging and ultimately powerfully moving romantic drama with a superb supporting cast and terrific performances from its two leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education), One Day is based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls (who wrote the screenplay) and stars Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway as Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, a pair of graduating Edinburgh University students who have an abortive one-night stand on St Swithin's Day, 15th July, 1988. Over the course of the next twenty-something years, they become best friends and the film follows the progress of their will-they-won't-they relationship on the same day each year.

Initially, Dexter is the more successful of the two, becoming an obnoxious TV presenter with a string of glamorous relationships while Emma slaves away in a Mexican restaurant and moves in with would-be comedian Ian (Rafe Spall), a man she doesn't love. However, after Emma retrains as a teacher, her life takes on a new direction and their friendship is threatened by Dexter's descent into drugs and alcoholism.

The Good
The performances are terrific: Sturgess, in particular, pulls off the extremely difficult feat of making Dexter deeply unpleasant and unsympathetic in the middle section and yet somehow winning back our sympathy by the end. Similarly, Hathaway may not be the dowdy “Yorkshire lass” of the book (her wavering accent is dodgy, though not distractingly so), but she makes the part her own and has strong chemistry with Sturgess to boot; she's also convincingly vulnerable and insecure in the early stages, even if the make-up department can't quite manage to make her look anything less than drop-dead gorgeous throughout.

The support cast are equally good, especially Rafe Spall, who steals every scene as Ian, while there's predictably great work from Patricia Clarkson and Ken Stott (as Dexter's parents) and from Romola Garai as Dexter's girlfriend, Sylvie.

The Great
The tricksy structure of the book translates remarkably well to the screen, aided by Nicholls' confident screenplay and some subtle production design work. The dialogue is extremely good too and there are some powerfully moving scenes, even if the film ever-so-slightly misjudges the book's emotional climax.

Worth seeing?
One Day is a superbly directed, achingly poignant romantic drama that won't disappoint fans of the book, thanks to a confident script and terrific performances from Sturgess and Hathaway. Highly recommended.

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One Day (12A)
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Content updated: 15/12/2017 02:38

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