Carl Larsen: ‘One Day’

“Let’s go see the new Hugh Grant movie!” chirped Poppy, my movie buddy. It was a mistake. The film, “One Day,” had neither Hugh Grant or much of anything else to recommend it unless, like me, you just enjoy looking at Anne Hathaway.

Poppy had been told by one of her myopic friends that “oh, you know, that charming British guy” starred with Anne Hathaway in this love story based on David Nicholls 2009 novel. He wrote the screenplay too, so blame him.

It’s an interesting idea. You take two friends with (and sometimes without) benefits, show what their lives are like on the same day each year for 20 years. It was set on St. Swithin’s Day (July 15th) and proceeded from their first encounter to their last.

The problem is, the guy (uncharmingly played by Jim Sturgess) had no charisma, and there was a total lack of chemistry for Anne Hathaway to work with. I found I didn’t much care what happened to either of them. So we watched them for (what seemed like) 20 years. Neither of them changed much. She had different hair styles. He shaved. Big whoop.

Sturgess is supposed to be this privileged playboy who disappoints his parents – the mom is wonderful Patricia Clarkson –- who drifts from girl to girl and glitzy job to glitzy job on his way down, while Anne works as a waitress then teacher then author.

She’s always been in love with him (for reasons I could never figure out) and he’s always been in love with him, too. So dewy-eyed Anne carries the torch for ages, and things end up – well, not like you’d expect. Suffice to say the ending is not exactly the kind of feel-goody junk you usually get at the end of a chick flick.

At least one of them isn’t chasing the other one through an airport.

What I think happened was, it wasn’t the kind of a novel that makes a peppy screenplay. You follow these two people around from Scotland to England to France and over the long haul the book comes to some conclusions about Life and Stuff. Not exactly popcorn fare, y’know?

The film is directed by Lone Scherrig, the New Zealand director responsible for “An Education,” that fabulous movie from 2009.

Well, there is always something good to be found even in the worst movies, and it was a treat for us Anne Hathawatchers, with her wide Julia-esque smile, and big lanky little girl beauty. And Rafe Spall added a little comic relief playing an unfunny stand-up comic. Plus drifting through the landscapes of Europe is a much better way to spend a hot afternoon in Pittsburgh. If you add popcorn, anyway.

Film review by Carl Larsen


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