David Nicholls's sublimely moving novel charting the "will, they, won't they" relationship between two opposites over twenty years is adapted for the big screen by Lone "An Education" Scherfig. Jim Sturgess plays the vain but fallible Dexter while Anne Hathaway is the witty, dependable Emma whose paths cross every St Swithin's Day for two decades. Sterling support comes from Patricia Clarkson, Jodie Kidd and Romola Garai in a first-class adaptation of the summer's must-read. And brace yourself for "that" twist!
Let's get this out of the way now.
One Day's audience will fall into two resolute groups - those who have read the book (aka 'those who have sobbed in public with nothing but a paperback to mop their tears"), and those who have thus far avoided the literary phenomenon that's become this year's Da Vinci Code (in its all-consuming prevalence, as opposed to its naked albinos and dead ferret haired protagonists).
As one of the former, this review comes inevitably and irrevocably biased. I may have cried at the book (manfully, I might add - it was in a garage, and I was drinking a beer and smoking a cigar at the time), but my affection for the novel at least meant I went into the cinematic experience, if anything, more judgemental than most.
The plot finds morally righteous, looks-ambivalent student Emma Morley (Hathaway) meeting handsome, debonair boy-toff Dexter Mayhew (Sturgess) on July 15th 1988.
From then on, we drop into their lives exactly one year to that day, over a span of two decades, as the pair mature, find love (not only with each other), and share roller coaster life experiences both together and apart as they find their places in both the romantic and real world.
It's a structure that brings a unique and fresh look at the rom-com, as you avoid the stock standard genre cliches, and dip in and out of two people's lives as they're brought to task on the wider ranging emotional gamut of life's unpredictable craziness.
Admittedly, that doesn't always serve the movie well. While it's refreshing to see a romance through its highs and lows, the transition from 450-page book to 110 minute movie means a fair amount of the character depth that had countless chapter pages to embellish and bridge the annual time-lapse is lost, with the odd sub-plot vanishing entirely and the connection between the two reliant solely on the leads' chemistry.
Luckily, mild issues aside, they succeed. Hathaway inevitably suffers from 'Faux-gly Duckling Syndrome'. With her stunning anime doe eyes and natural good looks, it's always a bit of a tough sell to position her as a frumpy, awkward, anti-establishment, anti-heroine Tyke.
Hollywood's tendency to de-uglify someone by adding Dennis Taylor glasses, a potato sack dress and ruffling up the hair still results in an Emma that's pretty gosh darn beautiful. And the less said about her ever-alternating Northern/West Country/Oirish(?!) accent the better.
Still, she sells the character where it matters most, and with Sturgess bringing his dashing good looks and easy going charm to proceedings, the up-and-down romance between Emma and Dexter just about works in gifting the story its heart.
While Hathaway's accent never convinces, its not consistently jarring enough to spoil your involvement, and while the book's narrative inevitably means that certain scenes and emotional dynamics are skimmed over in a frantic attempt to mark each year (and chapter) off the list, the love story is relatable and topsy-turvy enough to hook you in early on. Either way you'll likely be wiping away the tears.
And at least this time you'll have the comfort of doing so without having to soggy your bookshelf.