One Day follows the progression of one couple from their first meeting in 1988 through their much-changed lives twenty years later. The film, which is based on the novel by David Nicholls (who also wrote the script), gets along by peeking in on this couple on the same day each year. Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet on July 15 on their graduation from university. The two decide to remain friends rather than pursue romantic interests, and the film takes off from there. Some years are given more attention than others as the film strings through the saga of a couple that never quite gets it all right. Hit the jump for our review of One Day on DVD.
After seeing the melodramatic trailer one too many times, it was difficult to come into this film without any preconceived notions. Usually a fan of Focus Features’ artfully different films, I decided to give it a fair chance. Unfortunately, other than the foreign setting and cool colors, the film lacked the unique perspective and novel storyline usually attributed to their usual films. One Day is essentially a Nicholas Sparks film disguised in British accents and pretty landscapes.
The acting was much better than expected. Anne Hathaway in a British accent is less than appealing, but she did surprisingly well minus a few points where she had to raise her voice. However, it was still difficult to think of her as anything other than an American on holiday. Jim Sturgess was decent enough as a TV host hurt by his increasing fame and decreasing purpose. The best performance, however, came through a supporting role by Ken Stott, who plays Dexter’s father. His lecture to Dexter about straightening up his act comes off as heartfelt and sincere. Ian, played by Rafe Spall, also shines as Emma’s incredibly sweet but terribly wrong love interest. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to feel bad for him or punch him.
Although jumping from year to year is a novel story structure that allows us to see the full sweep of Emma and Dexter’s relationship, it doesn’t give the audience an ample chance to want to root for the characters. Moving in this fashion made me feel like the film never quite settled. As soon as I started to be interested in the story, it picked up and moved to the next year. By the end, I wasn’t certain if I wanted them to end up together already or if I wanted them to each find their own happiness and spare us the trouble. After an overdramatic moment near the end, the film falters into a downward spiral. I wanted it to end and put us all out of our misery.
One Day is not all bad, but it is certainly riddled with problems. It is mostly a drama about a rich guy and a humble girl whose relationship dynamics change through the years. We see their dreams rise and fall, but we never really see what makes them special. As the years pass, we are pulled along without getting the chance to see anything but what lies on the surface.
The DVD Bonus Features include a few featurettes as well as a Director’s Commentary and Deleted Scenes.
“Em and Dex, Through the Years” combines movie clips with short comments from Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, David Nicholls, and Director Lone Scherfig. It’s more a preview for the film than anything else. “Anne Hathaway: Bringing Emma to Life” is pretty much the same but with a slight focus on Anne Hathaway’s Emma.
“The Look of One Day” is made up of 3 different videos focusing on the look of the film, as dictated by its twenty-year span. Not only do fashions change with the years, but the characters also must gradually change as they age. These are the most interesting of the Bonus Features.