True story: When I read Drew’s less than stellar review of An Education — the Nick Hornby scripted coming-of-age drama — a few months back, I thought: What the fuck? Is Drew riding the crack-horse? There’s no way a Nick Hornby scripted movie featuring Peter Sarsgaard and an apparently immense performance from Carey Mulligan couldn’t be anything less than exceptional. I thought, “Drew’s new; what the fuck does he know? No goddamn film studies PhD candidate is gonna tell me that An Education isn’t one of the best goddamn movies of the year.”
And then I saw it. And I more or less agreed with everything Drew wrote. It’s an exceptionally well acted movie; the direction is good; and even the script is better than average. It’s the source material — and thus the story — that lacks. It’s just not that compelling. Kind of empty and aimless, and builds toward a unsatisfying payoff.
No matter: The film’s director, Lone Scherfig, did a fantastic job with what she had to work with, and helped to direct Carey Mulligan into an all but certain Oscar nomination. Now, the British director is putting together her next project, a movie called One Day. It’s a romantic comedy, which is usually a genre you don’t necessarily want to be associated with if you want to be a respected director, but this one does come from Focus Features, which is a little bit indie, and it’s based on a novel by British author David Nicholls, and we all know that British authors are highfalutin and of the highest esteem, so clearly it’s going to be a thinking man’s romantic comedy. Right?
“Day” revolves around Dexter and Emma, who meet for the first time during their graduation in 1988 and proceed to meet one day a year for the next 20 years. In “When Harry Met Sally …” fashion, the story tracks their lives and loves until they realize they were meant for each other.
I’m probably just reading that wrong, or I’m on the crazy pills, but I swear that logline sounds, more or less, like a traditional high-concept romantic comedy. And surely a woman with a name like Lone wouldn’t make a traditional romantic comedy, would she? Lone? Dexter? Emma?
No worries. Here’s a blurb from the review of the book, from The Times Online, a very respected newspaper, which I know, because it’s British, and everything British is well respected. After all, they eat chips over there; we eat freedom fries.
You’re not convinced, are you? You’re thinking, “I don’t need to read that, I’ve seen When Harry Met Sally”, or, “That sounds saccharine beyond belief”. Or, if your bent is more literary, you’re imagining walking past racks of One Day in Asda or Tesco, glowing with pride because you never read novels like that, “commercial” romantic comedies with cartoons and squiggly writing on the cover. Well, be convinced: One Day is a wonderful, wonderful book: wise, funny, perceptive, compassionate, and often unbearably sad. It’s also, with its subtly political focus on changing habits and mores, the best British social novel since Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up!
Fine. I’m sold.