By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin August 19, 2011 at 4:20AM
Sometimes, a successful play or a popular book—even a comic book—has qualities that just don’t transfer to the screen. One Day is based on a best-selling novel, and the producers hired its author, David Nicholls, to write the screenplay, since he’s had plenty of experience making films and television series. I still think something has been lost in the translation.
When Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) wind up together the night of their college graduation in 1988, they don’t become lovers but do—
—become friends—the kind of friends who confide in and lean on one another.
We follow the ups and downs of their lives over the next few decades, always on the same day, July 15. An aspiring writer, Em lacks confidence in pursuing that goal just as she does in every other aspect of her life. Dex just wants to have a good time, and does for a while until things come crashing down on him. The truth is, she’s loved him from the start—and he loves her, too, but isn’t willing to admit it to himself.
Unfortunately, One Day seems to go on for days; it’s dreary and repetitious, because we don’t get to know these characters enough to care about them and the vicissitudes of their lives. Dex is particularly sketchy and difficult to like, let alone understand. The two stars are attractive but the screenplay doesn’t give them much to work with.
Danish director Lone Scherfig should be on solid ground here—she did a fine job on An Education two years ago—but this movie sinks under its own weight, I’m sorry to say.
What ought to be a touching story of two star-crossed friends and would-be lovers is instead a tough slog. And don’t ask me about Hathaway’s on-again, off-again British accent.