Lone Scherfig’s One Day is a rare breed of film, the new-fashioned classic romance. Delicious, sweet, and often prickly; to be savored slowly, like the feelings that brew over twenty years, between two adorably-flawed British friends without benefits, Emily (Anne Hathaway) & Dexter (Jim Sturgess), aka Dex & Em. Right away, when Dex, a golden-boy/wannabe producer, & Em, an insecure aspiring writer, meet, sparks fly… But after a fractured one night stand, they decide to become… just friends. Really.
Set against the exquisite backdrops of Edinburg, London and Paris, One Day is based on the novel of the same name by David Nicholls (who also penned the screenplay). The story gets its name from an offbeat cinematic structure that keeps the audience on its toes: we peek into the lives of Dex & Em for only one day during a given year, before leaping ahead in time. Yes… it’s obvious these “friends” have complex feelings for one another. But it’s also obvious that more than just bad timing is keeping them apart over the years. It’s personal growth. Or lack of it. And so we go along for the ride, watching human nature unfold. Through relationships, marriage, children, fame, fortune, we wait and hope Dex & Em will grow toward each other.
Both romantic and pragmatic, One Day, illustrates why love is not always enough. And yet the threads between Dex & Em are ever resilient. Ultimately, it isn’t sexual chemistry that keeps them connected through the years but something far more mysterious: friendship, which at times proves stronger than love.
Without giving anything away, One Day’s script, gives us more of Dex’s journey than Em’s. And yet, with Scherfig at the helm, it doesn’t appear that way at all. Scherfig’s skillful POV reveals a subtle look or ordinary gesture and conveys a rainbow of emotions. Instead of relying on tricks or coincidence, we’re never left wondering why Dex & Em aren’t together, or together yet… Because we understand. And we route for them to find their way to each other. Different than other romance-driven films, One Day, is an epic love story, not about hopelessly “falling,” but something more meaningful, “creating” a healthy love. Imagine…
Danielle Winston is a Manhattan based writer/director of film/TV and theatre; her scripts are driven by complex women protagonists that defy gender stereotypes. She also works as a freelance entertainment and wellness writer.