The film’s chick-flicky trailer sucked me in – and perhaps set my expectations too high – with its attractive stars (Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess), melodramatic encounters, sweeping vistas of London and Paris, and lines like, “Dexter… I love you. But I don’t like you anymore.” Total chick flick, right?
So what’s wrong with it? I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. Maybe Anne Hathaway is just too attractive even when she’s trying not to be. Maybe I just couldn’t buy her British accent. Maybe I’m a sucker for a Hollywood happy ending and this one delivers more of a sucker punch. Don’t worry – that’s not really a spoiler – especially considering the foreshadowing in the first thirty seconds of the film, and the fact that it’s based on a best-selling novel (by David Nicholls, who also wrote the screenplay).
The gist of the story is this: Emma (Hathaway) is a working-class girl with idealistic dreams and ambitions. Dexter (Sturgess) is a wealthy charmer who thrives on self-indulgence. The two form an unlikely bond of friendship (and possibly more) after spending a single day together after their college graduation in July of 1988. The film dips into their lives on that same date over the course of the next 20 years, providing a glimpse of their highs and lows, personally and professionally, together and apart.
The premise is promising, but it’s never a good sign when you’re asking yourself mid-movie, “what year does this end?” 1988… 1989… 1990… 1991… 1992… keep counting til you hit 2008 and you’ll understand why I started getting bored with that narrative device, probably somewhere around 1995.
For a better, more entertaining chick flick option, consider Friends with Benefits instead. Or, at the very least, save One Day for a discount matinee. You’ll thank me one day.