August 31, 2011

Movie Review: One Day

One Day is one of those movies I was instantly leery of. First, get beyond it being a "chick flick" as that term carries very little meaning outside of being quick and dirty shorthand to describe the sort of movie it is (much like torture porn or buddy comedy). A movie, if it is good, should be able to transcend it's genre labels. Well, One Day is a movie that I did not think would survive it's trailer. Seriously, the trailer is pretty awful, especially in the description of it's plot device. The trailer says the two lovers meet on the anniversary of the first day they met. Wow, that sounds pretty awful, doesn't it? Fortunately this is not the case in the movie itself.

I guess it goes without saying that I found a way to get past the trailer and made the time to go and see this latest entry in the canon of romantic dramas. I know, I sort of wondered why as well. In any case, I am glad that I took the opportunity as the movie proved to be rather touching and entertaining. Sure, it is not a perfect movie by any stretch, but it does get you a little emotionally invested and features nice pacing, decent performances and a good screenplay.

The film employs a rather clever plot device, and it is taken right from the source novel, which should please fans of the book. Rather than the trailer's assertion that they meet on the anniversary of the day they first met, the story drops in on their respective lives on that one day each year. Whether they meet or not, whether they are in person or on the the phone, we only get to spend time with this them on one day a year. We follow them like this for more than twenty years.

It is a curious device to use. What it does do is not only track a romance, but it allows us to see their lives over a longer period of time. We witness the development of a friendship, we sit and ponder the role of fate in their lives, two people destined to be friends and perhaps something more. It gives us a shorthand view of their lives.

This method of storytelling allows us to get a view of a relationship over a lifetime. Where the traditional romantic film gives us the early and/or middle years, we rarely get to see it from start to natural conclusion. This shorthand style dispenses with the fluff of peoples lives. We don't need to see every event in the short term, instead we get the cumulative effect of their lives and how it all builds into something else, good times, bad times, they are all here. Yes, it feels a bit melodramatic at times, but that doesn't negate the effectiveness or the reality of their lives.

Oh yeah, you are probably wondering who these people are, right? Ann Hathaway is Emma and Jim Sturgess is Dexter. The both graduate University of Edinburgh on July 15, 1988. The two, having just metl spend the night together. This sets in motions a long term relationship that despite the obvious divergences in their life paths is fated to be something special. We see her struggle with anonymity in a Mexican restaurant, we see him rocket to fame hosting an inane television program. We see them in relationships, we see them lean o each other in hards times, they share tender moments, moments of anger, and pretty much everything in between.

This is a movie that will either work for you or it won't. It did for me. I cannot say it will have any lasting effect, but it was good. Hathaway and Sturgess have fine chemistry, the dialogue features some good banter and the whole thing moves along briskly. Simply put, this was much better than the trailer led me to believe.

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