Sep 8, 2011

One Day (2011): B-

I felt that there was something rotten in the roots of An Education from very early on in that film, although the performances (particularly Carey Mulligan's) were so good that I'm tempted to return to it, perhaps to find something more inept than with actual malice. Lone Sherfig's stateside debut follow-up One Day further urges me in that direction. This anticipated adaptation bears some of the same weaknesses as that previous film, namely a handling of emotional highways that lacks any sense of human existence I can conceive of; through awkward blocking and the performances director Sherfig susses out of her cast (also awkward, but with more purpose), things always seem just a bit off. These baffling scenes are fortunately isolated, and as the progressing story eventually culminates in what I'd describe as an emotional web worth getting tangled in, I'm willing to write them off as either relative flaws worth overlooking or a result of the fact that I'm 26 and male and the director is twice my age and female. One Day is the indie equivalent of an event film, and it's central device - twenty years between two friends with a thing for the other, one day, the same day, every year - is tantamount to a high concept or the villain in a sequel, yet Sherfig and writer/screenwriter David Nicholls (who adapted his own 2009 novel) manage to avoid overly synthesizing emotions; the breath of real life, genuine pain and pent-up desires come creeping through. Ultimately, it's probably the two leads - Anne Hathaway, doing "not beautiful" (in the sickening sense that word is supposed to mean) so beautifully, and Jim Sturgess, Harry to her Sally - that keep things worthwhile. To the film's detriment, life's punches come with some predictability, and the years might seem to pass more naturally but for the decision to indicate such via an annoying text device. Sherfig's visual knack is better than she realizes; she should stop dressing it up within an inch of its life.

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