(Lone Scherfig, 2011)
Adapting what has become one of the most widely read, respected and admired novels in recent times, Lone Scherfig’s ambitious take on David Nicholl’s romantic tome One Day, which charts the long-spanning relationship between Edinburgh University graduates Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) on the same day for twenty years, has faithfulness to the source material at its heart, but ultimately suffers from the same fate that befalls most other book-to-film translations in that what is left out deeply affects what is left in.
Having not read the book myself, though I have it on good authority that most of the story’s more important plot points are included, One Day begins promisingly and introduces its two mismatched protagonists with enough chemistry to withstand the rest of the film, yet as the years literally scroll ahead and the pair get older, it runs out of steam and descends into a mousy, repetitive series of events that are rushed through without much in the way of explaining what the time lapse forced us to miss. Events like Dexter’s ill mother and Emma’s loveless relationship with a failed comic Ian (an annoying Rafe Spall) are glossed over and underdeveloped, rarely giving the emotional pay-off’s the book allegedly supplied in droves.
Scherfig deserves kudos for translating Nicholl’s words to sumptuous visual life, just like she did with the award winning An Education (2009), but lightning hasn’t struck twice, and One Day rarely rises above being a good looking but unrewarding adaptation that collapses under the weights of Hathaway’s lopsided, Emmerdale-influenced accent and a schmaltzy, never-ending finale that feels more like a laboriously predictable cop out than the emotionally resonant climax the characters, and the audience, deserves.