Anyone who’s gotten on a train, tube or bus during the last 18 months will be familiar with the distinctive orange jacket which covers David Nicholl’s One Day. After seeming to penetrate the book market the inevitable has happened and it’s been turned into a film.
Whilst it’s tempting for anyone who’s read the book to pick out omitted passages and chapters which were integral to the plot, the fact that the screenplay was written by Nicholls himself reassures you that he can’t have heartlessly shredded pages without any sentimentality or thought, surely? And if he hadn’t played a role in journey from text to screen it’s exactly what I’d be doing.
One Day follows the lives of geeky, grounded, northern-lass Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and priviledged, underachieving and cocky Dex (Jim Sturgess). The pair is followed over a span of 20 years and revisited every July 15th starting from 1988, where their nearly-but-not-quite romance starts on their graduation from Edinburgh University, until the present day in a story which everyone will surely be able to relate to in some way. We all have our own Dex or Em’s, the people with whom a relationship is never really off the cards, but it’s never really on them either.
Director Lone Scherfig (An Education) does a near perfect job of capturing the essence of each year and the soundtrack similarly has the ability to transport you back in time, however compared to the book the film seems to rather heavy handed-ly rack through the years at breakneck speed. Without the character’s internal dialogues to carry the plot, to someone who is unfamiliar with the original narrative the speed may be a little hard to keep up with. I could imagine the motivations of Em struggling to find her way post graduation, spending years working in a tex-mex restaurant and even her attraction to Dex difficult to truly understand without the detail we get in the book.
Nevertheless the on screen chemistry between Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway keeps you interested. Sturgess plays Dex throughout his egotistical years as a late night TV presenter overindulging in booze and drugs, through to his break down without fault and whilst the casting of an American lead in Hathaway to play Emma has been criticised, by the time the transformation from gawky and lost to successful and self assured does eventually arrive she is able to do her justice and to me it seems that late 30s Emma is the only place where Hathaway was really able to deliver the goods. Until this point it’s hard to buy into a beautiful Hollywood actress playing a lost-her-way Yorkshire lass, no matter how thick rimmed her glasses are or how frizzy her hair.
When the final plot twist does arrive in such a quick, unexpected and dry way, only a colder hearted person than me will be able to stop themselves from shedding a tear. By skipping the “happily ever after” Hollywood ending you’re left with a touching and emotional film that’s hard to shake off.