Movie Review: One Day

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July 15, 1988.  After a meet cute on the night of their college graduation, Emma and Dexter begin a lifelong friendship, spanning over two decades and different countries.

Emma (Anne Hathaway) is a middle-class bookish with a more realistic and at times pessimistic outlook on life.  Dexter (Jim Sturgess) is a charmer from a wealthy family who could be anything he wants to be.  Every July 15 we’re shown snapshots of their lives – aspiration, career, love, loss, divorce, death – together and apart.

Hathaway fits the role of Emma, although it takes getting used to her British accent.  While we get to see Dexter’s side with his family, we do not get the same benefit with Emma.  With booze and drugs and women, the character of Dexter isn’t likeable; it is to Sturgess’ fine performance and boyish charm that he’s very much tolerable.

While Emma’s fashion sense and inner confidence blossom, it’s actually Dexter that we see the evolution the most. The weary, older Dexter in the later part of 2000s is a world apart from the fresh-faced, eager Dex when he first appears.

There are adorable and tear-jerker moments for sure.  The first July 15 carries great promise of what’s to come.  Although when part of the ending reveals the last half of their first day together, it’s hard to believe that they would decide to remain just friends.  The flirtatious French jaunt earlier in the years is fun and the later reunion an emotional one.

Based on a novel written by David Nicholls, the story does not translate well onto the screen.  As the years progress, we see changes in Emma and Dexter and their surroundings, but it feels like the scenes are merely events moving along through the motion. In attempt to fit in as many years as possible, the result is almost like being read narratives about what they do.  Instead of delving deeper into certain segments of their lives, investing in the characters and connecting more with their relationships in the process, the film inexplicably leaves pivotal milestones offscreen.

The execution makes it nearly devoid of what makes a story interesting; the build-up, character and relationship development, and payoff.  The last third act leading to the ending is very anti-climatic.  And the ending appears to be out of nowhere, aiming for a shock value.  It’s a shame for a story that has so much potentials to be a classic like “The Notebook.”

“One Day” has a unique twist in telling an epic love story.  Unfortunately, the intrigue stops short with the concept.

Copyright (c) 2011. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (  Twitter:

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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