One Day: Twenty Years, Two People (2011)

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Drama, Romance

After graduating from college, Emma and Dexter meet and go out to celebrate. Offering to take her home, they begin to make out but stop short of spending the night together. Choosing to remain friends, their journey through life begins as well. As the next few years go by, Emma moves to London but seems to fall short of her dreams of publishing her writing. Meanwhile, Dexter takes a long vacation which allows him to teach, but then breaks into the entertainment industry and becomes a huge success. As Dexter feels like he is achieving all he set out to do, Emma settles into a relationship with Ian but begins to feel trapped. Dexter eventually allows the success to lead him to parties, booze and drugs, which puts a strain on his friendship with Emma. As the two drift apart, they both continue to care for the other and hope to one day find each other again.

Starring: Anne Hathaway (Emma), Jim Sturgess (Dexter), Tom Mison (Callum), Jodie Whittaker (Tilly), Rafe Spall (Ian), Josephine de la Baume (Marie), Patricia Clarkson (Alison), Ken Stott (Steven), Heida Reed (Ingrid), Amanda Fairbank-Hynes (Tara), Georgia King (Suki), Matt Berry (Aaron), Romola Garai (Sylvie), Diana Kent (Mrs. Cope), James Laurenson (Mr. Cope), Matthew Beard (Murray Cope), Toby Regbo (Samuel Cope)

The main focus of the film is on Hathaway and Sturgess, and both actors have a great rapport. Hathaway maintains an element of doubt in herself which plays into the way that she initially idolizes her friend, Dexter. For Sturgess, he gives his character a sense of self-focus that has a hint self-loathing, particularly as he continues hit his downward spiral in the entertainment world.


Lone Scherfig adapted David Nicholls’s novel into a sequences of experiences throughout a twenty year period, all taking place on St. Swithun’s Day. There celebrations may have driven them back to Emma’s place, but Dexter’s nerves got the best of him and killed the mood. On the other hand, this led to a friendship to develop and eventually lead to a deeper, more meaningful loving relationship. Their friendship helped each of them support the early parts of their careers, as Emma struggled to find her confidence and Dexter was just getting his foot into the entertainment business. While Emma continued to flounder and find anything to grasp onto, Dexter was able to float through experiences and opportunities until he hit it big. Stress becomes too much to bear when Dexter’s abuse problems push the two of them apart, but Emma finally finds the strength to challenge Dexter and take control of her life. As her life rises, his experiences faulters, giving Dexter a chance to find something more meaningful to do with his life and appreciate the friendship and love he shared with Emma.


The process of only looking at a single day of each year can be seen both as innovative and frustrating. There are so many moments that each of these characters experiences throughout the year that shape their successes and failures, but the only days that are highlighted for context are July 15th of each year. Scherfig integrates some of the experiences the viewer does not get to see through the way she creates a more vivid context in the transitions into each new year. The viewer is almost instantly able to understand what must had happened in the past year to land the character in their current situation. The more frustrating side of the equation is that mystery of what actually happened between each year’s July 15ths. It is also a little unclear what happens later in the film to push the pair back into each other’s arms. Emma appears to have found herself but mysteriously gives it all up to get back together with her best friend.

The film is an interesting concept and has a few moments of surprise, but the overall presentation feels a little too fragmented and the fluctuations in their relationship feel a little forced.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5


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