There is a lingering and persistent distraction throughout One Day which severely impairs the audience from becoming absorbed in the film. This is Anne Hathaway’s atrocious accent. Many Americans have at varying degrees in the past successfully pulled off a believable British accent. However, Anne Hathaway’s character, Emma Morley, sounds at different times Irish, Scottish, and American, but never British. It truly was irritating after awhile. Why didn’t the filmmakers just cast a British actress? Or, if they were dead set on Hathaway playing Emma, then move the whole story to America. If not for the distracting aural miscues, this film would most likely be much more enjoyable.
Emma and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet the night of college graduation at the tail end of an all night party. This is not a meet-cute either. They are the only two left as the last couple pairs off with each other; therefore, fate has thrown them together to have a one night stand. Things get in the way and they end up deciding to be friends and start a very long platonic relationship. This is mostly convincing as Emma is seen to be truly infatuated with Dexter who does not see her in the same light, in fact, he treats her rather poorly as the years go by. Graduation night was July 15th by the way so naturally the pair concocts a plan to meet up annually on that day or at least check in my telephone if this is not possible.
Surprisingly, every July 15th is actually a pretty horrible, sad day for each of them. Very rarely is one or both of them in a good mood and happy with where their life is at when the film jumps forward to another July 15th. Furthermore, the film focuses much more on Dexter than Emma with extensive scenes concerning his alcoholism and career missteps. Emma even authors a successful book and it hardly gets a mention until Dexter happens upon it. This made me wonder that if Dexter was to have so much more attention and screen time than Emma, why all the fuss to make Anne Hathaway British?
Since the screenplay was written by the same gentlemen who wrote the novel this film is based on, the story’s climax is inevitable even though it is forced and manipulative. The scene is also very poorly shot. The director, Lone Scherfig, who made the brilliant An Education two years ago, completely misses the mark with this scene and the rest of the film suffers for it. The event is set up in a way that even people who venture out and see one movie a year will be able to see what is coming up.
Another miscue is Patricia Clarkson’s role as Dexter’s mother. It feels her role has been severely cut during the editing process. Not only does she have dialogue in the preview which is not in the movie, but she only shows up in about two-three scenes, moves the plot along, and then she’s out of there. I have not read the novel, but I guarantee she is a much larger presence on those pages than what seems to be a faint echo of her in this movie.
P.S. There is an atrocious Elvis Costello song over the closing credits which destroys any lingering fondness or afterthoughts the audience may have been enjoying during the closing scenes.