One Day [Blu-ray]
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After one day together – July 15th, 1988, their college graduation – Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) begin a friendship that lasts a lifetime. She’s a working-class girl who dreams of making the world a better place. He’s a wealthy charmer who thinks the world is his playground. Somewhere over the next two decades, these two very different people realize that the love they’ve been hoping for has been there for them all along. Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education) and based on the bestselling novel by David Nicholls, it’s a touching story critics call “a smart and endearing romantic comedy.” (US Weekly)
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I have to give it at least four stars for keeping me interested, and the music.
If you've read the book, you know this is not a typical happily-ever-after Hollywood romance a la The Notebook. But that is one of the things I love most about it. It has a real, genuine feel to it. Emma, serious-minded, nerdy, wise-cracking and adorable in her insecurity, and Dex, a privileged cad who goes through women like kleenex, are two young people who officially meet on the day they graduate from University, after Emma has crushed on Dex from afar. Their romance was not meant to get off the ground that day, however. But the seeds are sown for a long and abiding friendship that lasts for the next 20 years. We get to check in on what's going on with them one day a year, the anniversary of the day they met. The relationships, not just between Em and Dex, but between Dex and his parents, his wife, his child, Emma's relationship with Ian, and how they each grow through these relationships, are the real heart of this movie. It's really about two ordinary lives in progress, which lends credence to the notion that everyone has an interesting story to tell. Unlike most romances, the main question of the movie is not "will they get together/stay together" but rather "how does their love for each other color the decisions they make and help them through the ups and downs of their individual lives?" and most importantly, "was it all worth it?" As the last scene fades, we know the answer to the last question is a resounding "of course it was."
In my opinion, most of the criticism thrown at this movie was simply groundless. 1)Anne Hathaway's accent. It's not Gwyneth Paltrow flawless, but it's serviceable and doesn't detract from the story. 2) Anne's character Emma is bland. I see this criticism basically from men. I guess they mean she's not "hot." She's not. She's not supposed to be. She's pretty, but is a bit of a late bloomer. She's smart, spunky, insecure, a three-dimensional character with a soul to soul connection with Dex. That's what keeps them together. 3) Dex is unsympathetic. He's a spoiled playboy who gets lost, as some overprivileged people do, but finds his way back. He creates many of his own problems, but is a good person. We can see that he is underneath it all, the same way his mother does. It's seeing how he grows into the man she knows he can be that is part of the movie's charm and impact. 4) No chemistry between the leads. Uh, there were times when I actually felt heat coming off the screen. Jim Sturgess was also convincing and stunning as Dex and does an amazing job not only aging but maturing Dex and showing his emotional growth. I thought I developed a crush on Jim when I saw him in Across The Universe. But this movie takes it to a whole new level.
The editing is the one weak spot in this movie. Some of the early scenes feel a bit truncated, leaving a few later scenes feeling a bit unexplained. It doesn't flow quite as nicely as Scherfig's last film, An Education. But the story is much more engaging and entertaining, and the characters are much more likeable and relatable.
All in all, I found it to be a very satisfying romance whose ending is very life affirming, and it left me with a swelling in my heart, a smile on my face and a little tear in my eye all at the same time.
On the surface, Anne and Jim's characters are opposites but if you think about it they are really more alike than not. One giveaway of this is that Dexter's mother points out how she hates his hosting voice and later Emma recommends against him using that voice on his show. It's a subtle way of showing that Emma may be different from him on the surface, but underneath she's like Dexter's mother, who he connects with very naturally. Many of the "differences" about the two people are due to the fact that Dexter is screwed up. But she sees him for what he can be at his best. This kind of instictive, honest love doesn't enflate our ego, but remains even when we're at our worst ("I love you, I just dont LIKE you anymore"), giving us the opportunity to be something worthwhile. The other differences are less like differences and more like compliments (She's smart and responsible and he's spontaneous and draws her out).
The choices the two characters make, especially Dexter's, give the movie the suspense it needs. I'm normally lukewarm towards Anne Hathaway but I really thought she fit this part well. She had amazing chemistry with Jim Sturgess and her uncanny ability to look nerdy and childish from one angle and elegant and vulnerable from another worked well for the character. Without giving the ending away, I felt like the screenwriters gave us enough movie after the "major plot twist" to deal with the emotions it caused. It left you with a better feeling than you imagined you could have. I'm totally bewildered that this movie isn't more popular :)
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