REVIEW: One Day

20 08 2011

Romance movies aren’t always my thing, being a guy and a Woody Allen fan. “One Day,” however, is a pleasant surprise.  It takes a novel concept – from an acclaimed, best-selling novel – and makes a will-they-or-won’t-they friends or lovers story fun and engaging.  While it’s a step down for director Lone Scherfig, whose film debut “An Education” was nothing short of masterful, it’s not a terribly precipitous decline.

In addition, it’s the kind of movie that played perfectly well in the early weekend afternoon matinee setting in which I saw it.  “One Day” is like a very long stroll with two very interesting and complex characters.  Anne Hathway’s Emma is a strong-willed, slightly prudish peace activist totally lacking in self-confidence.  Jim Sturgess’ Dexter is a laid-back, entitled mess of a man who never seems to be lacking in excuses to doff his clothing.  After a few bottles on the evening of their graduation, they spend a night together and begin a friendship that continues throughout the years.

The movie is then driven by their change over the next twenty years as we see them on July 15 from 1988 all the way to the present.  This nifty device prevents the movie (and I guess, prevented the novel as well) from slipping into predictable melodrama as their metamorphosing and evolving is what keeps us interested.  One year, Dexter is a drug-addicted hack television host and Emma is in a happy relationship; soon after, he’s cleaned up and in love while she’s found herself in a dead end.

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