Friday, August 19, 2011

Movie with Abe: One Day

One Day
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Released August 19, 2011

There are conventional ways to tell love stories, and then there are less conventional ways. “One Day,” adapted from the 2009 novel by David Nicholls, follows best friends Dexter and Emma over the course of twenty years by showing their interactions on one day each year, July 15th. Sometimes, they spend that day together, while other times, they are worlds apart, more so physically than emotionally. It’s an intriguing approach to storytelling that definitely has its advantages but also leaves a bit to be desired in terms of the conveniences and inconsistencies it produces by relegating its focus to just twenty fateful days.

More than anything, “One Day” is about one couple that isn’t always a couple. There’s clearly a connection between Dexter and Emma, who meet on the night of their university graduation, that isn’t always realized romantically, though it’s obvious that they’re destined to be close. Each year, they evolve and devolve in different ways as they gain more experience in the world and develop as people. It’s a fascinating, fleeting transformation, since each new Dexter and Emma only appears for a few minutes before the next calendar year begins and time jumps ahead to the successive July 15th.

Interestingly, stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess discuss how, in many of the years portrayed in the film, they each lived in their own bubble, unaware of what the other was doing in his or her life at that point. Hathaway describes Emma as “a survivor, someone who wants to grow and be her best self and who believes that things are going to turn out okay, even if she has trouble admitting that to herself.” Sturgess describes Dexter, especially initially, as appearing like an “over-privileged, underachieving, mischievous idiot,” but goes on to add that, beneath all that, “he really is a good person with a good heart.”

Together, Hathaway and Sturgess make a great pair. Their interactions are not always entirely pleasant or perfect, but when they do manage to seduce each other occasionally, it’s a marvel to watch. Lone Scherfig, whose last project was the marvelous “An Education,” brings “One Day” to life with style and grace. Each year is given its own signature feel, loyal to the fashion and sensibilities of the time, and the film does effectively mimic a journey through the years. Occasionally, the film does lend too much credit to the given date to summarize the entire year, but as a whole, it’s still a moving and affecting experience with strong performances and sweet romance.


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