One Day

This chemistry-free adaptation really drags, writes DONALD CLARKE

Directed by Lone Scherfig Starring Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Romola Garai Rafe Spall 12A cert, gen release, 107 min

This chemistry-free adaptation really drags, writes DONALD CLARKE

LET’S DEAL with that accent first. Before this largely ghastly adaptation of David Nicholls’s popular novel even opened, Anne Hathaway had already been marked down for the annual Dick Van Dyke Bad Dialect Award. It is certainly the oddest of noises. For the most part Hathaway affects decent received pronunciation – Lady Penelope via transformed Eliza Doolittle – but, every now and then, she inserts a vowel that, at the mightiest stretch, could have its origins in Yorkshire.

What’s going on? A conspiracy theorist might suggest that the film’s producers are trying to play down the culture clash at the story’s heart.


Nicholls’s book details the eventful relationship between Dexter (Jim Sturgess), an annoying posh boy, and Emma (Hathaway), a less well-connected northern girl. We first meet them failing to get it together on their last night at Edinburgh University. It is St Swithin’s Day. The story then proceeds to visit them on that date – and only on that date – for each of the following 20 years. He drifts into drugs and dissolution. She becomes a waitress and then a teacher. With a bracing nod to Dickensian morality, the virtuous seamstress eventually rises while the brash snob sinks into decline.

Well, that's no good. Aimed squarely at the American market, One Dayexhibits unmistakable ambitions to be the next Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Accordingly, all allusions to Emma’s background are shuffled into the corner and the picture contents itself with Holland Park mansions, open-topped sports cars driving through the Cotswolds and suave parties on rooftops offering views of Big Ben.

Despite being set in the early 1960s, An Education, director Lone Scherfig's previous film, had about as much connection with goings on in contemporary Britain.

None of this would matter if any class of chemistry existed between the two leads. Introduced with perfunctory haste and – hindered by that literary structure – propelled at nauseating speed through too many hurried subplots, the characters remain infuriatingly indistinct throughout. Dexter enters media Hades almost immediately. It's hard to care about a character, who, even before you've peeled the wrapper from your choc ice, has degenerated into an unholy combination of Terry Christian (he hosts a version of The Word) and Tim Westwood (he apes a mockney accent when on screen).

Meanwhile, Emma mopes her way about London like a justifiably forgotten rodent from an abandoned Beatrix Potter story. Before Dexter’s absurdly sudden transformation into amiable good sport, they exhibit little but simmering contempt for one another. Who can blame them?