ONE DAY (Dir. Lone Scherfig, 2011)
This British rom drama, based on the David Nicholls bestseller, traces the entangled lives of Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgis from 1988 to 2006. All the significant events of their will they/won’t they relationship apparently only take place on July 15th, which is St. Swithin’s Day (I’d never heard of it before either) which is apt because this is a pretty swithy movie. I know “swithy” is not a word that means anything – don’t bother to look it up – but I’m going to assign it the definition of “too convoluted and corny.”
ONE DAY is not without a modicum of charm; Hathaway convincing accent wraps itself around some witty lines, there’s beautiful photography, and a nice new Elvis Costello and the Imposters track (“Sparkling Day”) plays during the end credits, but mostly it’s failed fluff.
Hathaway and Sturgis, best known as the McCartney-esque bloke from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, meet on July 15th, 1988 at the University of Edinburgh and almost hook up, but they decide to be friends – half naked in bed, mind you. We check back in with them almost every year after that on the same day, and see them through relationships with other people (he marries model Romola Garai; she moves in with comedian-wannabe Rafe Spall), and various careers.
Along for the ride through time are Ken Stott and Patricia Clarkson as Sturgis’s parents, and Tom Mison as his overly slick school chum.
Problem is, they’re supposed to be soul mates but the 2 leads have precious little chemistry.
Sturgis is such a cad, a spoiled rich brat who goes up and down the ladder of success as a TV talk show host, then bottoms out in a blast of raving cocaine clichés (showing us that it’s the mid ‘90s) that he’s too obnoxious to care about and we never get what Hathaway sees in him.
Hathaway fares better, but as an aspiring children’s book author, her character is transparent and boring. Still, there’s a little fun to be had seeing her sport a series of period hair styles throughout the years.
Towards the end the film flashes back to the beginning of the story so we see that there was more to that first St. Swithin’s Day than they let on, but it doesn’t resonate in the sentimental manner it’s supposed to. Likewise, a manipulative shocker attempt in the last third.
I don’t want to just write off ONE DAY as a chick flick that guys won’t see unless they’re dragged to, although that’s what it is, because director Scherfig (AN EDUCATION) does add some attractive gloss to this tripe.
It’s just that ONE DAY is way too swithy for its own good. See? I bet I can get that word to catch on.