Review: One Day

PLOT: Dexter (Jim Sturgess) & Emma (Anne Hathaway) meet on the evening of their college graduation. After spending a chaste night together, the film follows them each July 15th over the course of twenty years. Throughout that time, we see their ups and downs, both professional, and personal, as they gradually drift back together and embark on the romance they put off for two decades.

REVIEW: I had high expectations for ONE DAY. Considering how weak the early trailers were (complete with that same One Republic song that’s been used in the trailer for seemingly every romance to come out in the last year), one might wonder why. The reason is simple. Lone Scherfig.

Her last film, AN EDUCATION, not only made a star out of Carey Mulligan, but was also one of my top films of 2009, and if anyone was equipped to bring a fresh perspective to a romance (spanning twenty years at that), Scherfig would be my choice. Alas, ONE DAY is massive disappointment, as it’s about as flat and conventional as can be. There’s absolutely nothing even remotely original about the film. Despite having never read the bestseller this was based on (which a friend says is just as hokey as the film); I knew exactly where the film was going, from the first frame to the last.

It doesn’t help that ONE DAY follows two ridiculously two-dimensional characters that never feel like real people, but come off as caricatures. This is doubly surprising, as they happen to be played by two usually fine actors, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, who’ve never been as unappealing as they are here.

In Hathaway’s case, it doesn’t help that she’s saddled with a wholly unconvincing English accent, but this wouldn’t have been a huge deal if the person she was playing wasn’t so damn superficial. She’s the typical “nice girl”, or at least that’s what the filmmakers seem to think she is, despite the fact that she walks around the whole film complaining and judging people for, God forbid, being anything less than perfect, or not recognizing her brilliance and superiority.

Sturgess’ Dexter isn’t much better, with him becoming a schlocky TV presenter who quickly goes out of style once the “cool Britannia” Britpop appeal fades. Yet, even at his height, everyone, including his incredibly judgmental mum (as played by Patricia Clarkson, sporting a somewhat more convincing fake accent than Hathaway), who, despite dying of cancer, makes sure he knows just how disappointed she is with the fact that he’s hosting such a low-brow program. Even worse, we’re supposed to agree with her as Dexter, shockingly starts to drink (a twenty-five year old drinking: NO!!!!), and occasionally hooks up with models (the cheek!), to the seemingly stern disapproval of the filmmakers, who portray him as a total wanker. God forbid everyone doesn’t settle down immediately into a boring suburban life!

I’m really amazed at how a seemingly hip director like Lone Scherfig could go from a film like AN EDUCATION, into ONE DAY, which celebrates the dull normalcy her last film shunned. Once again, Hollywood has given us another film that shows us it’s all but impossible to lead a remotely fulfilling life unless you eventually settle into a dull relationship. It seems to suggest Emma’s incapable of being happy without being Dexter’s nurse maid, while he’s barely even capable of functioning unless having her control every facet of his life. ONE DAY is Hollywood dreck at its worst.

Review: One Day




About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.