One Day, based on a best-selling romantic novel by David Nicholls, is a dreadfully dull film that’s been adapted for the screen by the author himself! Anne Hathaway stars as Emma, and Jim Sturgess as Dex, two students who wind up together on the night of their graduation in 1988. They don’t become lovers, but they do become lifelong friends. The film follows their lives for the next 20 years or so, catching up with them on the same date – July 15 – each year.
That’s the film’s chief conceit, its one clever gimmick – we check in on them for just one day each year, and watch as they make their way through wrong jobs and wrong partners.
Emma is an aspiring writer, but she lacks confidence. Dex just wants to have a good time… and he does too, till everything finally goes south. We notice that Emma has loved him from the start, and we can see that Dex loves her too, but he just doesn’t know it yet.
The problem with the film is that despite rambling on for over two hours, it never really tells us enough about either of the protagonists, and as a result it’s hard to care for them. Dex, in particular, comes off as selfish and obnoxious, and he’s very hard to like, much less understand.
The film feels repetitive and tiring, and although Anne Hathaway has a charming presence, she’s working with such slim material here. You’re reminded of the recent Hindi film Mausam, also about star-crossed lovers who take forever to convey their feelings for each other.
I’m going with two out of five for One Day. What a misleading title that is… One Day seems to go on for days!