Last month the fetching one-sheet for Lone Scherfig‘s One Day (Focus Features, 7.8) spurred enthusiasm on top of Scherfig’s respected rep and the wide acclaim that greeted her last film, An Education. One Day, based on David Nicholls‘ 2010 novel and costarring Anne Hathaway and Jim Strugess, is one of those delayed-satisfaction relationship tales (i.e., spanning 20 years) in the vein of When Harry Met Sally.
After graduating from a university in ’88, Dexter (Sturgess) and Emma (Hathaway) “run circles around one another for the next 20 years,” according to one cliche-filled synopsis. That irks me right off the top. Why, I’m asking myself, does any potential couple wait 20 years to figure out that they’re the best match either one can find? Why not take 30 years to come to this conclusion? Or 40? Why not wait until they’re in their ’80s and one of them is on his/her death bed?
The main reason they don’t “happen” for so long, it turns out, is immaturity, booze and general asshole-ish tendencies on the part of Dex. I’m suspicious of any Amazon.com reviewer for the usual reasons, but Gregory Baird scared me with the following:
“Dex goes from being the person you like ‘in an ironic, tongue-in-cheek, love-to-hate kind of way’ (in the words of his agent) to someone you (or at least I) can’t abide somewhere around the hundred-page mark. Self-involved and pleasure-seeking, he’s the kind of guy who ‘isn’t sure sure that struggle suits him’ when pondering a career path. Indeed, the only reason he wants a career at all is so that he can have a line to impress women with. When his self-absorption leads him to angrily think to himself that ‘he has better things to do’ than be at his beloved mother’s deathbed, it goes too far.
“Emma is the only person with the capacity to affect real change in Dex, and is reduced to (eventually) acting as the vehicle for his recovery. So her story stagnates. We are meant to believe that Emma can’t fall in love because she has already fallen, irretrievably, for Dex. [Except her] total love for Dex is inexplicable. It doesn’t make sense.
Yet another reviewer calls the dialogue “is absolutely terrific — the couple have a teasing/kneedling way of talking to each other and the repartee between them remains funny and fresh throughout.”
I just feel a mite concerned — nothing more. I say this as an ardent admirer of Scherfig’s (she’s exceptionally smart and talented), and as someone who tumbled big-time for An Education and had a very good time with Italian for Beginners.