Synopsis: After one day together – July 15th, 1988, their college graduation – Emma Morley (Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess of Across the Universe) begin a friendship that will last a lifetime. She is a working-class girl of principle and ambition who dreams of making the world a better place. He is a wealthy charmer who dreams that the world will be his playground.
For the next two decades, key moments of their relationship are experienced over several July 15ths in their lives. Together and apart, we see Dex and Em through their friendship and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. Somewhere along their journey, these two people realize that what they are searching and hoping for has been there for them all along. As the true meaning of that one day back in 1988 is revealed, they come to terms with the nature of love and life itself.
Release Date: August 19, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Romance, Drama
July 15th, days in the life of Dex and Emma that are remembered over the course of more than twenty years. The idea of looking back on just one day in two people’s relationship is very much a forlorn conception. What can you possibly learn about two people, and their feelings for one another, the heartbreaks and successes of life, by only looking at one day a year? As One Day communicates to the viewer, a great deal can be learned and great investment in the characters achieved with these brief glimpses into their intimate moments.
Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) officially meet the evening of their college graduation. They have met before, but Dexter and his forgettable and often times callous ways never remembered she existed. Emma has had a long standing crush on Dexter, something she reveals to the viewer quite early on–even though we already know this from the eager uneasiness of her body language and speech. But Dexter and Emma never become lovers during their first evening together, July 15th, 1988. Instead, they fall asleep in each others arms with the promise that they will spend the next day together as friends. Flash forward to July 15th, 1989 and Emma and Dexter are just what they said they would be, friends. Emma is moving into a flat in London and he is about to embark on a trip to India. Their friendship has grown into one of a fond closeness with one another, and being the most opposite of people it is appropriate for them to think they will indeed always, and should just as well, be friends.
As the years pass by and their time spent together, or merely on the phone with one another, each July 15th the truth becomes clear quickly that these two are meant to be much more than friends. It is the getting there that makes One Day a languid romantic drama full of the ups and downs of life, as well as friendship. We see Dex give in to his spoiled ways, making a living as an obnoxious late night television host with alcohol and drug problems. A very selfish existence Dex creates for himself, with the only stable thing in his life, and one he takes advantage of, is Emma. As for Emma, she finds her dreams of being a writer lost. Her financial obligations force her to be a waitress, and the unfortunate moment arrives when she is offered the position of manager–as she bluntly states to Dex, “they said they wanted someone who was not going anywhere.” As Dex lives his high life, slowly spiraling downward, Emma eventually finds herself as a teacher, and one day a published writer. They both fall in and out of love with other people. They find themselves at crossroads in their own friendship, neither one of them ever in the same emotional place as the other and unwilling or able to give in to the feelings they have for the other.
What happens to Dex and Emma over the years is only shown, and touched upon, during the single days the film shows us but a great deal occurs during them to cue the viewer in to the events of the past year, and sometimes greater moments that occurred on a specific July 15th you were not aware of until now. It makes for a romance that is full of almosts, should haves, and why didn’t we’s. All things anyone who has experienced love, or romance, or a fleeting affair, can relate to instantly. The strongest element is the friendship between Emma and Dex, the one thing that holds together this movie from beginning to end–the promise that one day we will see these two people together as lovers. One Day is not the standard romantic drama, or romantic comedy–as it is laced with many a humorous moment between Emma and Dex. The passage of time adds depth to the story. Dex comes to be the stronger character developed in the story, and Emma very often is left in the position of hapless heroine yearning for love, success, and the unattainable acceptance as a lover by Dex. It can be frustrating to not see as much of Emma’s life than of Dex’s but the ending makes it evident as to why this is Dex’s story more so than Emma’s.
One Day is a romantic centerpiece of a film. Every day shown is a day worth showing.
Dexter and Emma are two incredibly different people. Emma has to work hard for everything she does, and has the work ethic to do so. Dexter has lived a life of privilege, and expects the world from the world. When they meet Emma immediately greets Dexs’ wry smile with sarcasm, and a hearty smile. As the years pass by the repartee between the two continues, as does a consistent flirtation and longing. They spend a vacation together that oozes sexual tension, and the looks on each of their faces is painful to watch as they hold back. Even if Dex is more than willing to have a fling, and Emma is doing everything she can to control herself–going so far as to make rules for the trip (and most are broken on the first day). There are scenes where Emma and Dex are simply friends, sharing their problems and such. One of the most touching occurs when Emma is defeated, unwilling to commit to her talent as a writer. Dex says to her, “if I could give you one gift…I would give you confidence.” The interplay between the friendship and could-be romantic interludes work due to the chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess. Even when they are apart they never leave one another’s thoughts; when they are together it is plain to see they belong with one another.
Over the many different July 15th’s you see different versions of Dex and Emma, and while Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway continue to generate a strong enough chemistry to make their friendship and romance believable, as they grow older there is a loss of the spark. It is a case of the build-up, the forbidden, the flirtatious becoming greater than the fulfillment. After so much has happened, and so much has not happened, it is strange to find the initial climactic romantic moment in the film less than thrilling. Dex and Emma are bound to end up together in the course of the film, it is unfortunate that when they do the grandness of the romantic connection is less than grand, and more temperate. The film does make up for this dip in chemistry at the end, in a very large way–causing weeping over the wave of emotions that take over the viewer. For those who have read the book the ending will come as no surprise. For those going in blind it will shock you but not produce anger; this love story is far too grand for anything to ruin it and thanks to Jim Sturgess’ emotion drenched face and Anne Hathaway’s smiling eyes even the saddest of moments are wonderful odes to romance.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Lone Scherfig
- Producer(s): David Nicholls
- Screenwriter(s): Anne Hathaway (Emma)Jim Sturgess (Dexter)Tom Mison (Callum)
- Story: Jodie Whitaker (Tilly)
- Cast: Rafe Spall (Ian)Patricia Clarkson (Alison) Barney PillingBenoit DelhommeMark Tildesley
- Cinematographer: Rachel Portman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA