Film Review: One Day

One Day is a well-written romantic drama that should satisfy its audience. Whilst it fulfils the conventions of the genre with its themes, the format of the film offers something a little different.

Dexter and Emma spend night of their university graduation together; the beginning of a long and tumultuous friendship. Over the course of twenty years, Emma and Dexter are visited on the same day – 15th July. Sometimes the pair are together, sometimes they are apart…

Based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, One Day features well developed characters that are convincing. Focusing dominantly on the two protagonists allows their characters the time and space to evolve. This is intensified by the fact that the film takes place over the course of twenty years. Visiting the protagonists briefly each year allows viewers to see the changes in their personality. One Day is concerned with such a pivotal time in a person’s life (from graduation to the late 30s), that the changes in character are significant, even if appearances remain quite similar.

The year-by-year construct allows the audience to explore details of the characters’ lives for just a snapshot. The incidents that take place on this date are not always the most exciting, but they are believable. Moreover, it works well to retain the viewer’s attention. Not all the facts are made clear from the outset, so the audience must wait until detail is filled in later down the line.

The format of Lone Scherfig’s film calls for a reproduction of different periods from the last two decades or so. The most obvious way this is depicted is through styling and music. The costumes and styling are great in the movie, and are sometimes a cause for amusement. Those who are a similar age to the characters (or indeed older) will look back at the portrayal of the early nineties with a certain fondness.

The music used in One Day is integral in setting the period. The choice of songs is good, and really effective in defining the time frame. The graphics used to illustrate the date are also interesting. Attempting to place these in a different way for each year ensures some creative results.

Anne Hathaway gives a solid performance as Emma. She gives a good shot at her character’s regional accent, and is convincing in the film’s emotional moments. Jim Sturgess is also great as Dexter, while Ken Stott offers good support in a minor role.

The film can be a little syrupy, but at times is genuinely moving. One Day is a well-executed film that should do well with its intended demographic.