The film plays out around one day each year over two decades or so, introducing us early on to Emma and Dexter meeting cute on the night of their college graduation. They stumble into bed only to decide to cuddle and sleep. They become buddies and a special friendship is kindled.
The relationship grows and wanes over the years, at times awkward and confusing, filled with laughter, tears, loneliness and fear. Em and Dex, as often as not, are headed off on different paths, but their love for one another has a way of tossing them together – such is life.
What makes all this minutiae palatable – even quietly serene and enjoyable at times – is, in the words of A.O. Scott of the New York Times, a lush, swooning, deliciously anachronistic orchestral score by Rachel Portman. I concur. I’d also add that the film’s evocative and richly colorful settings in London, Scotland and France offer up a pleasing cosmopolitan vibe.
All of this, in a fashion, has been done before. The movie, at its best, often seems a euphonic blend of Two for the Road; Same Time, Next Year and When Harry Met Sally. I’m certain there are others. In fact, the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill plays around with much the same themes. Worth noting, Hathaway and Sturgess are younger versions of Notting Hill stars Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant; a long and winding way simply to say there is very little new under the celluloid sun these days.
There is much to like about One Day. Its third act, however, takes the effort off into a dark and dangerous direction for a film that’s built on fluff. Not wishing to give too much away, I’ll simply finish by suggesting you might want to bring along a box of Kleenex and a friend with an available shoulder to cry upon.