Monday, August 29, 2011

One Day


A foiled one night stand leads to long time amity between college friends Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess). The story of their enduring love and friendship is narrated through various events in their lives unfolding every year on the 15th day of July.

The said date and the corresponding year flashes on screen and is presented in such a way that it blends with the background. This seems cool at first because it gives you some sort of perspective as to the time frame the story follows. However, given that the story spans twenty years, the trick eventually turns redundant after a while, especially in some years where nothing significant happens like that of 1997 (open to correction) where Hathaway is only shown swimming before the following year makes its inevitable appearance onscreen. That was fast.

The movie explores the themes of friendship and love. Are they two different concepts or just one on varying sections of the same spectrum? Have you ever had that best friend of the opposite sex for ages and you just do not know where to draw the line? If so, then you could relate to this movie. You are more than friends but less than lovers. What are you then? I guess that’s what It’s Complicated means, which could have been a better title but Meryl Streep’s movie already used it. Instead, the film focuses on July 15. Fine, unique enough.

Perhaps Nicholls could have played a little with the chronology of events and presented them in non-linear form? To clarify, the film does start in mid-2000 before going back to the late 80’s, but it goes linear after that with a flashback as the ending. Or maybe they did not want to be a serious version of (500) Days of Summer. On the other hand, this linear narration does help in making the audience see the character development and reversal of fortune between the two leads. This also leads you to better observe the evolution of Dex and Emma’s bond as friends and eventual lovers, which is, as mentioned, the film’s central and recurring theme.

Some inconsistencies in Hathaway’s accent are disconcerting. This is not the best performance of her career but somehow she makes it work. It is Sturgess who gives the movie its character, although the two of them have undeniable chemistry onscreen. Or maybe because the guy is the one who leads a spontaneous life, while the girl, to quote the best friend, is such a prude. We always prefer the wild ones, right? We admire them because they can do what most of us would not. And this is the reason why they click as a couple, they are almost polar opposites. They complement each other. It is all just a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is one scene that hits you like a speeding truck, suddenly, unexpectedly, out of nowhere. You cringe for a while and shudder in disbelief. This particular scene is powerful because it clearly depicts real life where every event seems random, quick, fleeting, that you would barely have time to react and you would have no choice but to move on. The world will not stop to sympathize with you, now would it? Nevertheless it is in the many moments that we cherish where one finds true meaning and strength to move on, and that is what this film manages to achieve. Its message is simple: live your life. Love. Hurt. Get hurt.

I have not read the book, but I certainly will. I give Nicholls the benefit of the doubt that his written work just did not translate too well onscreen.

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