One Day


Will they? Won’t they?

One Day review

One way to sidestep the pitfalls inherent in adapting a beloved novel: hire the author to pen the screenplay.

Yet while David Nicholls’ bestseller is already cinematic, with its snapshot structure and sparkling dialogue, his adap lifts scenes with their internal monologue inevitably lost. What’s left is a simple and effective love story that never gets too far beneath the surface.

Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are Emma and Dexter, who meet on the eve of their graduation in 1988. She’s spiky and smart, he’s languid and cocky; but these opposites attract and, after a near-miss one-night stand, they develop a semi-platonic friendship.

The narrative returns to them on the same July day of each year thereafter, tracking their separate progress and shifting dynamic through ’90s London.

You never fully understand Emma’s devotion to the callow Dexter, but thanks to Hathaway and Sturgess’ easy chemistry, you never need to, their pure enjoyment of one another established swiftly by director Lone Scherfig.

Hathaway has clearly attended the Michael Fassbender School of Mix ‘n’ Match Accents – broad Yorkshire to RP within scenes – but she brings a vulnerable edge to her prickly character.

Sturgess has the tougher role – the hedonistic ne’er-do-well – and he’s ill served by the otherwise laboriously faithful script, which largely jettisons his character’s darker, drug-abusing shades. Thanks to Sturgess’ charisma you still feel for him despite his lack of dimension, not least in one wrenching scene with his ailing mother.

One Day isn’t a story about big moments – it’s about the almost-moments, the near misses, the wasted years. But the same-day-each-year device falters on screen, because there’s so little time to establish what’s changed in each new timeframe.

By the time they finally sort themselves out – after divorces, babies, failed careers – we’ve missed too many crucial moments in their relationship to really rejoice.


Much of Nicholls’ sharp dialogue and emotional truth remains intact, but the over-faithful translation does little to compensate for what can’t be lifted from the page.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • FBEXanthopoul

      Jan 21st 2012, 16:02

      3, by Eleni Antonaropoulou “One day” is a bestselling novel by David Nichols published in 2009. The book quickly won the hearts of the public, and high praises from critics all over the country. It tells the story of two people, spanning across a period of 20 years, from their graduation through to their late thirties. Nichols takes the reader on a journey of life, love and experience as these two people struggle to find the right path in life, chase their dreams and find happiness. ‘One Day’ is a well-written novel, capturing the gradual and inevitable transformation from youth to maturity, the dreams we have as youths, the compromises we are forced to make, and the love that drives us on. While reading this book, I immediately became aware that it might have the potential to be turned into a film, and that it should be an easy job. The imagery used is remarkably vivid – images that the reader can clearly visualize while the dialogue is heavy and consistent throughout. There are certain books, such as “One day” that they have all the necessary ingredients to make a bestseller and the potential to be adapted into a great movie. Judging by the characters of the book, the plot, the dialogue, the perfect blend of humor and drama, and a strong love story, I had high hopes for a great film. Unfortunately, I was wrong. First of all, I’d like to say that I enjoyed the book, although I didn’t find it as breathtaking as popular opinion had initially promised. I found the concept smart, watching the same day each year for 20 years appealed to me, and the whole ‘time-traveling’ experience was fun – the journey from the late 80′s, through the crazy 90′s and stopping at the turn of the century. I think that David Nicholls portrays the flair and ambience of the British cultural and political life of these last decades brilliantly. The main characters are a little obvious, a middle class, hard working girl with aspirations of being a writer who falls for a rich, wealthy boy with more money than he knows what to do with, and no real ambitions or direction. From the very beginning I saw where the story would take the two characters. The amount of clichés in the novel verged on the ridiculous, and I was left with very little room for guessing. This being the case, the book remained an enjoyable read. Although the book remained interesting and engaging throughout, the film did not. Where the novel was emotional, the film could not be. Where the novel showed its subtle and intelligent humor, the film did not. Most notably, the romance in the story was severely lacking in the film, whereas in the book it showed potential. I think that the casting was totally inadequate with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess having the leading roles. Anne Hathaway as “Emma” could not be less convincing as an English girl and neither of them showed any sign of the spark they are both capable of. Only their transformation through time was well presented thanks to the costume and make-up stylist. Since David Nicholls himself wrote the screenplay, which, of course, consisted of the important parts of the book, the dialogue is equally vivid, realistic and funny. However, the chemistry between the two actors was unquestionably the leading factor in determining the films unsatisfying nature, and both performances leave much to be desired. Of course as it was expected many things were omitted in the movie since their 20- year life story had to be squeezed into less than a 2 hour movie. Many of the most emotionally and romantically satisfying scenes were either changed or missed. The setting of the emotionally draining scene in which Dexter tells Emma he is getting married is changed from a maze to a London terrace, tearing all romance out of it. Why did such a change have to occur? Let me put it this way: if you are a girl and you are into these romantic, sentimental movies, you believe in that one and only soul mate and you cannot imagine the love of your life dying (oops spoiler), you should be crying like a baby while watching this movie. However if you want some real, solid entertainment, opt for the book. Eleni Antonaropoulou at

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