26 August 2011
ONE DAY- Review
Ready? OK then. So, One Day follows best friends Dexter and Emma, who become acquainted upon their graduation from Edinburgh University in 1988. Their relationship is principally platonic, seeing as how she's an awkward working-class girl with low self-esteem, and he's a privileged ladykiller without a care in the world. The twist here is that we only see the pair on July 15th, one day of each year, every year, over the course of two decades.
Here's where I'm going to lapse into a bit of an editorial. It really might have helped to warn you of this as much as the spoilers. I don't get everyone's beef with 2005's movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I thought it was a blast, personally- not the best version of that story, but an enjoyable version. If you didn't like it, fair enough, but it remains one version of a story that has been told in books, radio, on TV and on a towel. My view on adaptation is to see the story first and the medium second.
To many, that's sacrilege. The doctrine states, "But you have to read the book first." The argument being that you're going to get more from the book than you ever could from the film. Sometimes that's true, and sometimes not. And when it's true, sometimes it's still a bad thing- books can be over-long in the same way as films can. In the case of One Day, I suspect that the book is much better than the film. And so I have something to look forward to, rather than having read the book first and irrationally hated the film, as some have.
"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage." And the years pass all too quickly, in a way that may even have been an intentional bit of foreshadowing. That, for one thing, would be much more subtle than the film's fatally misjudged opening scene.
If, like me, you don't know where this is going when you start watching it, the first scene gives you a huge clue. I am 100% certain that the book doesn't open in the same way that the film does, because it turns something which happens later on into something staggeringly predictable. Here's why we should look at the story first and not the medium- both come from the pen of David Nicholls, and he wrote the story as a book first. It's not an adaptation, so much as a transference from one medium to another- the film feels spoon-fed as a result. However, this is no fault of the cast or crew.
Director Lone Scherfig, hot off her Oscar-nominated success with An Education, does a good job of directing the sprawling tale from the late 1980s to the present day. It's in the DNA of the tale that Emma and Dexter are seldom together, but Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are relatable enough to make their romance interesting and engaging. It's intentionally an un-sexy relationship- far more sparky and snarky, by turns. But ultimately, there's not a single thing that anyone can do to prevent the superb Rafe Spall from walking away with the whole film, in the role of Emma's hopeless second-choice boyfriend, Ian. These are all good things about the film, but ultimately, it doesn't all hold together.
One Day is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen One Day, why not share your comments below? And leave Anne Hathaway alone, dammit. OK, so she might never be a believable dowdy Yorkshire lass, but the vitriol over her accent is uncalled for.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.