One Day (2011): An Unheartfelt Journey of Romance

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A what should be one of the realistic and sweetest romance of all time became muddled in its execution that lack depth and emotion even with the on-screen chemistry.

If not for special circumstances, One Day certainly won’t be a film I pick to expand my knowledge or even as a passing time. Yet I have a firm belief that all films should be treated as an artwork that has a message or intention for the audience even if it sometimes comes as a half-baked one. Lone Scherfig ‘One Day’ (2011), based on David Nicholls bestselling novel (who apparently also wrote the film’s screenplay) is also one of those films with a good intention of slow-budding romance from friendship to lovers, yet never seems to accomplish due to… reasons. o

Romance films always infuriate me when a special once-in-a-lifetime “conflict” happens in their life and walking through days, weeks or maximum several months, they end up together and live forever ever after as a suggestion. It isn’t an awful representation of romance but rather it became a form of escapism that carries a placebo of emotions and worst, it becomes a repeated formula of nothing new in the genre. ‘One Day’ provided a different narrative (although it isn’t new), laying out a foundation of friendship between a man, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and a woman, Emma (Anne Hathaway) around 20 years or so on the same date, 15 July (the same date of this post. Coincidence?)

This is what a relationship is supposed to be; strengthening through times of joy and hardship that most light-hearted romance lacked. Furthermore, ‘One Day’ takes a deeper look to youth struggles of the future, giving a taste that adult romance and real-life isn’t a fairy-tale just like how films display it. With Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess powerful chemistry of an ideal couple, ‘One Day’ should have been my cup of tea. But similar to how cruel this world is, it’s a dream that would never be realized through this piece.

With a long story to tell, ‘One Day’ surprisingly moves within the pace of most romantic comedies that I’ve talked about before. Sacrifices then had to be made, which include but not limited to characters’ relationship, personality, hardship and others. All of what made these characters so human are eradicated for the sake of running time into a very simple surface apart from the romantic relationship between them.

Symbolism should have also been strong, such as why 15 July does so matter within them. Yet if Dexter didn’t bring up this conversation near the end it would have just vanished into the depth of sea forgotten forever. In the end, what only matters is their journey and nothing else, leading everything else into the exit door of my hall of memories due to its cliché execution that doesn’t fit the film’s setting. 

I might have been a bit harsh, but I just can’t help being disappointed with the film.


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Film Credits

One Day

Nationality: UK

Duration: 108 min.


Lone Scherfig


Anne Hathaway
Jim Sturgess
Patricia Clarkson
Ken Stott
Romola Garai

Written by

David Nicholls


Benoît Delhomme

Edited by

Barney Pilling

Composed by

Rachel Portman

Synopsis: A romantic comedy centered on Dexter and Emma, who first meet during their graduation in 1988 and proceed to keep in touch regularly. The film follows what they do on July 15 annually, usually doing something together.