Monday, 29 August 2011

Movie Monday: One Day

It's not often that I see a film and can't find a few redeeming qualities to it.  In fact more often than not, even if the film is appalling there is still some remote amusement from it because I, as many do, enjoy the act of the cinema.  The concept of sitting in a dark room and totally forgetting who you are, what's going on in your life and instead being completely ensconced in somebody else's thoughts, feelings, actions and consequences.  Unfortunately for the entire of One Day I sat there completely aware that I was indeed in a cinema and completely aware that there were a bunch of mostly very good actors on the screen playing dress up.  It wasn't all the actor's faults though, in several cases they were actually the victim of just some very bad casting.

Before I go any further I think it's very important that you all understand that I was really willing it to be at least vaguely entertaining.  Reviews have been less than complimentary but everybody knows that a critic is far more, well, critical, than the average viewing public.  I also would like you to know that I can critique this myself from both sides of the spectrum as I have both read the book and not read the book.  This leads nicely on to how much effort I put in today to like this film.  Of the five of us that were seeing it, I was one of two that had not read the book.  At approximately 9am I began.  That's right I tried to read the entire 435 pages in  7 hours, which may sound do-able but it actually wasn't when factoring getting ready and getting to the cinema.  I made it eventually to page 229 which took me half way through the book, just enough to get an idea of the characters but I had no idea where they would end up .

The story follows Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter's (Jim Sturgess) friendship across twenty years (I only made it ten in the book) as she struggles with her romantic feelings for him whilst he seems half oblivious to them, half in denial.  The current running through the book and that of the film is that it focuses on one particular day in each of those years, July 15th, as a sample of their lives as the time passes by.

Firstly, let's address the elephant in the room.  Anne Hathaway's accent.  The role called for her to have a Yorkshire accent and it has been widely documented that she did a particularly bad job of it.  I'm no Yorkshire accent specialist but it doesn't take a genius to know that continuity is quite a big deal and that was what I and every other non-yorkshire-accent-specialist, would have noticed.  From the opening credits to lights up it would have been quite understandable for any of us to think that Emma (Hathaway) was having some kind of identity crisis.  Throughout the first scene I actually recall thinking her accent was bad because she sounded like she had a very standard British accent, not quite RP but not far off.  However, just moments later and completely unprepared for it, a broad northern accent suddenly appeared for a sentence before she made a quick return to her previous dialect.  This was a recurring incident throughout the film and no matter how many times it happened it still took me by surprise and resulted in me releasing a little chuckle.  This in itself was incredibly distracting and the main reason why I felt that Emma's character never fully developed in the film for me, that and the fact that there were emotions that weren't played out when they should have been. 

Sturgess's portrayal of Dexter was far better but even he didn't fully develop for me until at least half way through.  One of the most important aspects of a successful film, book or play is for the audience to care about what happens to the characters in it and unfortunately this just didn't evolve for me with Emma and only very close to the end for me with Dexter.

Upon reading the first half of the book and knowing that Emma's hopeless boyfriend Ian was to be played by Rafe Spall, I immediately believed that he was the perfect actor for the part and although I still stand by my initial feeling, Spall overplayed the part and seemed far too much like a creepy old man, that was reminiscent of a David Walliams character from Little Britain.  Ian was so repulsively odd in fact that instead of appreciating that Emma may have felt sorry for him it became impossible to believe that she ever would have gone on a date with him in the first place.  Suki, one of Dexter's many girlfriends fell victim to some really horrific casting.  So much was the case that when actress Georgia King was introduced as the character both my sister and I gasped "No!" in unison.  King, a fantastic actress in the flesh, never quite transfers to the big screen for me, as her characters tend to seem over-dramatised and unbelievable, this teamed with her awkward look means that the pretty, petite and naturally bubbly girl in the book never came alive in the film.  

Very few books ever transfer into film the way we imagine them but I think One Day, even done to the best of it's ability would never have succeeded.  Twenty years, even when accounting for one day a year, is a long time and a couple of hours was not long enough to condense all the emotions and developments of Emma's and Dexter's lives.  Instead we were rushed through the first ten with very little time to take in the relationship or even understand how or why they were friends.  Due to the pace, as an audience member Dexter and Emma were two completely opposite individuals that were friends in the film because the script said so and for no other reason.  The fact that the film races through the first half of the book especially means that it fails to lay the foundations required for us to sympathise with the characters later in the story.  I think it's even fair to say that I was more moved by the trailers of upcoming releases played before, than the actual film.

If you've read the book please take heed of the reviews and do not go and see it.  The version the book has painted in your head is far superior.  If you haven't read the book I'd still recommend not watching it.  If you must rent it, when it comes out on DVD, then do but be warned the storyline almost seems pointless and the characters relationships forced.


  1. great review! loving your blog :) xx

  2. Beautiful! :) Nice blog. :)

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I have not yet read the book but actually don't really want to watch the movie. I love Anne Hathaway but for some reason she is not appealing to me here!


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