One Day
dir Lone Scherfig
scr David Nicholls; prd Nina Jacobson
with Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall, Jodie Whittaker, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Georgia King, Maisie Fishbourne, Emilia Jones, Tom Mison, Matt Berry
release US 19.Aug.11, UK 24.Aug.11
11/UK Focus 1h48
One Day
Life's a beach: Hathaway and Sturgess

garai spall whittaker
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
One Day Following a relationship on one day a year over more than 20 years is an interesting idea, and this film features a solid cast and some genuinely moving situations. But it's ultimately too slushy and dreamy to really resonate.

On St Swithin's Day, 15th July, in 1988, Emma (Hathaway) meets Dexter (Sturgess). Both are university students in Edinburgh, and there's a clear spark between them, but circumstances prevent them from becoming a couple. The years pass. Dexter moves from being an annoying TV host to a chef and has a daughter with Sylvie (Garai). Meanwhile, Emma has a career as a teacher and maintains an unsatisfying relationship with Ian (Spall). And they keep running into each other along the way, wondering what might have happened - and may yet happen - if they got together.

It's clear from the start where this is going, so the plot's final act shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the genre. At least adept director Sherfig resists the temptation to milk the sentiment like a Hollywood filmmaker might do. And she also keeps the central characters grounded in a sense of realism, even as the plot seems to skim the surface as it covers such a long timeframe.

Hathaway and Sturgess are engaging and likable, as always. And even if their accents roam the length and breadth of the UK, there's a realistic sense of the period in both Edinburgh and London over the years, thanks to subdued costumes and settings plus a lot of great music. And side characters add their own layers of interest, from the scruffy-smiley Spall to the icy Garai, while the always-terrific Clarkson and Stott add texture to their roles as Dexter's parents.

Meanwhile, the relaxed and off-handed pace almost wins us over as we move through the decades. But a frustrating coyness takes over whenever sex, drugs or serious themes (like childlessness) threaten to appear, which leaves the film feeling like a cute, sweet pre-teen movie when it really ought to be passionate and intense. There are strongly dramatic and witty moments along the way, but not nearly enough to let post-pubescent filmgoers engage with the story in a meaningful way.

cert 12 themes, language, violence, innuendo 11.Aug.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall