Friday, 9 September 2011

One Day (2011) – Cinema Review (4/10)

One Endless Day...

First let me say, I have not read the book. This review is based on the film, and the film alone. The premise is quite interesting. Take a couple of characters, and visit them on the same day over a number of years, to show how their lives progress at that same point annually. Unfortunately you can't help feeling that the premise is what prompted the author/script writer, David Nicholls, to create the story, while the characters and events were somewhat of an afterthought.

Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, Becoming Jane, The Princess Diaries) stars as Emma, who straight from university, befriends Dex, played by Jim Sturgess (The Other Boleyn Girl). The film then charts their respective lives and friendship over the years.

It all feels rather aimless and random. Some might say that echoes real life, but at the same time this is a film that uses any number of tired clichés for emotional impact. There are really only four characters of consequence, two male, two female. Both male characters are shown to be fairly pathetic throughout most of the film. One is a typical 'geeky nerd' character, who is clearly played as the 'sad loser', and comes out with all the worst clichés that non-genre writers think define science fiction and fantasy fans. Meanwhile the male lead, Dex, is a drug addled, reprehensible, womanising drunk. On the flip side, there is Dex's mother, shown to be strong yet tragic, the emotional role model for her son. Finally we have Emma herself, the sturdy shoulder for the weak male to lean on, the one constant in his life. Strong enough to resist him until he's sorted himself out, but always there as another emotional crutch.

It is to Anne Hathaway's credit that she made an otherwise mediocre character vaguely interesting. Her performance has been criticised somewhat, most especially for her Northern English accent. Admittedly, her accent is hit and miss. For the most part, she does a straight forward and generic 'English' accent that works well, but her regional inflections are a mixed and occasionally out-of-place bag. However, it's not terrible by any means. Her performance in most other aspects, is excellent, and honestly the best thing in the film. Hathaway is quite adept at being able to play both slightly nerdy girl-next-door, as well as glamorous and beautiful within the same character in a believable way.

It's difficult to judge Jim Sturgess as Dex. The character is mostly unsympathetic, and by the time he supposedly redeems himself, you really don't care what happens to him. As such, Sturgess has either succeeded at playing the character as written, or failed to make him sympathetic when he should be. If the latter, it would still be difficult to blame him, given the material. Unfortunately there was nothing that stood out about his performance, unless you count acting drunk and/or drugged-up occasionally.

Given the lead character's friendship was in many ways the core of the film, there was very little, if anything, to explain why Emma stayed (or even became) such close friends with Dex in the first place. He was never shown to be particularly interested in her life, or helpful, or really even have anything in common with her. The best that could be said, is that he used her friendship as an emotional crutch, while she stayed friends with him because he was the unobtainable handsome 'bad-boy' that she wanted. So perhaps it would be better to say that there was no healthy reason for their lasting friendship. Which at the very least undermines the romantic aspect of the story.

Whilst trying to avoid any spoilers, the finale of the film is based around a manipulative emotional 'shock' moment. It is not only unnecessary for the story or characters, but executed in a contrived way that feels unrealistic for the sake of making the audience jump.

I can't honestly recommend 'One Day'. It's not a bad film as such. It keeps you watching, though much of that is down to Anne Hathaway's likeable portrayal of the potentially weak character of Emma. The romantic elements of the story, such as they are, keep things vaguely interesting in the latter third or quarter of the film, but there is little else to grab your attention alongside the lacklustre ending.

Fans of the book may enjoy the film, as they might see more within the scenes than other viewers. As for the rest, as you walk out of the cinema doors or switch off your TV, I think you'll find yourself shrugging forgettably. What score I have given it, is mainly for Hathaway's performance.


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1 comment:

  1. I kept away from this one..and I'm glad I did. Thanks for giving me all the reasons I was sure of.