One Day Review: There are 6.7 Billion People on Earth, and Not a One Will Like This Movie
One Day is an enormously rotten film. There are a litany of reasons why that is true, but chief among them is that it's an appalling, excruciatingly dull film right up to the point that it makes you so angry you'll want to crush a Mogwai under your boot. The romance is flatter than Michael Cera's abs, the story is about as interesting as the space between Cera's stammers, and the ending is as stupefying as the popularity of "Jersey Shore" (don't misunderstand the simile; people who like "Jersey Shore" will not like One Day, either).
The movie features Anne Hathaway as Emma and Jim Sturgess as Dexter, two names obviously plucked from a novel written by a sad, stodgy British person who had nothing interesting to write so he wrote One Day. Emma and Dexter officially meet for the first time after their college graduation in 1988. She is an intelligent but insecure writer, while he is an overconfident but dim future television presenter. The two nearly hook up on their first night together, but ultimately think better of it, deciding instead to forge a lifelong friendship fraught with limp sexual tension.
Over the next 20 years, the story pops in on their lives once a year, every July 15. Why July 15th? Because apparently that's the day when horrible and/or tedious things happen most frequently to the characters. She goes through a mopey phase before finding herself, while he goes through an obnoxious phase before becoming slightly less obnoxious, and the two enter and exit other relationships while continuing to orbit their own.
One Day is not an engaging film, nor is it an interesting one. But it is plodding and unpleasant. It comes from director Lone Scherfig, who also directed An Education, which shares in common with One Day a lethargic pace and a sense that something should be happening in the place of something that's not happening. An Education, however, was salvaged by remarkable performances, particularly that of Carey Mulligan. One Day is not as lucky. Many have taken issue with Hathaway's British accent in One Day, but that criticism seems misplaced. She has an excellent British accent. And an excellent Irish accent. And an excellent American accent. She's even talented enough to use all three at once. Typically, I do find Hathaway to be a vibrant and alluring actress, even in her worst movies, but here she's buried under Scherfig's malaise. Sturgess, on the other hand, tries too hard to puncture it, and the result is something akin to this year's Oscar telecast, only Hathaway is in Franco's role of buzzkill while Sturgess more closely resembles Hathaway's manic determination. That's not to say I don't like Sturgess; I think he's great in roles that don't demand much of him, like all of them.
For the first 90 minutes, One Day is a cruel film because of its banality, while the last quarter-hour is cruel simply for the sake of being cruel. It's an agonizing film to watch, and ultimately, an agonizing film to experience. Indeed, while there are a great many films that I dislike each year, there are few I hate as much as One Day. If that notion arouses some morbid curiosity in you, repress it. It's not worth it. You won't like One Day. No one will.