One Day is based on David Nicholls’ insanely popular, step-up-from-chick-lit novel which follows two young Brits through 20 plus years of their lives, revisiting them every July 15.
That’s about as much plot exposition as you’re going to get, quite frankly. Describing what the book is about, and how well it succeeds, is a waste of my time. Describing what the movie is about, and how well it fails, is a waste of our time. But I suppose a slight bit of ranting is in order.
Thirty minutes into the film, the script has covered four years and Anne Hathaway has tested just as many accents, steadily fumbling her way through one, if not the, worst performance of her career. As Emma, Hathaway’s accent starts proper British, then casually dips into shades of Irish, Scottish, and what appears to be Southern Belle American. (I’m no expert in British dialects, but I can only imagine how many of those are thrown around as well.)
Bad accents don’t necessarily kill a performance (Malkovich’s absurd Russian inflection doesn’t make Rounders any less enjoyable), which is a nice way of saying that Hathaway’s performance isn’t all to blame for One Day’s many faults. There’s the phoned in script (shockingly by Nicholls himself) that is horribly convenient and manages to dodge what would be the most interesting, and most difficult, sequences to write. There’s the clunky, film school editing that doesn’t even bother to keep a little thing called continuity in mind. There’s the overall lazy direction by Lone Scherfig, who has sadly taken a serious misstep after her wondrous An Education.
In short, there’s not too much going on here, and most all of it is wrong. Whiffs of redemption? Jim Sturgess does a decent job as Dexter, but Mickey Mouse could be awards worthy next to Hathaway. Patricia Clarkson, as Dexter’s mother, is reliably good without being given anything to do. And 10-year-old twins, Kayla and Eden Mengelgrein, deliver the film’s best performance, despite being on screen for roughly 14 seconds.
One Day is a mess, a hellacious waste of time and incredible let down for any fan of the book. There’s a big dramatic scene near the end of the film that generated serious laughs from the audience I sat with. Me? No, I couldn’t laugh. I was too busy staring at the ground, holding my head as it shook back and forth. Most of the crowd cleared before the credits even started, we sought strong drink, or an Eternal Sunshine brainwash. D-