Film Adaptations – One Day

Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) embrce in a scene from the 2011 adaptation of David Nicholls novel One Day

Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) embrce in a scene from the 2011 adaptation of David Nicholls novel One Day

In the second of my film adaptation reviews, I’m looking at David Nicholls romantic novel One Day. Find my first review of Pride & Prejudice here.

The novel was published in 2009, just two years before the adaptation was released. The book was received well and was awarded Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the Galaxy National Book Awards. One Day was later named 2010’s Galaxy Book of the Year.

The book follows the relationship between sweet Emma Morley and the reckless Dexter Mayhew focusing on one small segment of their year together (or apart) in each chapter. Nicholls looks at each 15th of July (also known as St. Swithins day) for twenty years, each chapter reveals a little more Emma and Dexter’s relationship.

In the first chapter, Emma and Dexter spend the night together in Emma’s bed, although they’ve met before they weren’t friends, but that first St. Swithins day marks the beginning of a long friendship and blossoming relationship. A year on and Dexter is travelling across the world while Emma unsuccessfully tries her luck in theater.

Eventually both Emma and Dexter move to London where Emma works in a dead end job at a Tex-Mex resteraunt and Dexter becomes a successful TV presenter. The tension between the couple is obvious and while Nicholl’s flirts with the idea of a relationship between the two there is always a hindrance.

Emma ends up dating her co-worker Ian Whitehead, an endearingly hapless hopeful comedian and leaves her job to become a teacher. Meanwhile Dexter ends up addicted to drugs and alcohol and becomes more obnoxious and selfish than ever. This becomes obvious to Emma at a dinner with Dexter when he spends more time watching the barely dressed waitresses and sneaking off to the bathroom for another hit than he does listening to Emma. Emma tells Dexter that she loves him but no longer likes him and they part ways.When the pair meet again Dexter tells Emma that he is engaged to be married to Sylvie, who he later has a child with.

Eventually, after an affair with the Headmaster, a divorce and a trip to Paris, Dexter an Emma begin their relationship as a couple.

The book is a beautifully written, engrossing story. It made me laugh and cry and pick up my paperback at every opportunity. It was therefore a hard order to fill in film format.

Firstly although I love Anne Hathaway and admire her acting, her Yorkshire accent is incredibly distracting, coming and going at every syllable and when it is there it isn’t convincing.

In the book giving the reader just ‘One Day’ a year to understand the developing relationship and maturing of the characters leaves you yearning for more. But when watching the film it seems rushed, so much so that the first few years of Dexter and Emma’s fly by and feel like they are skimmed over.

There are a few pieces of the plot missing, like Emma’s affair with the Headmaster. And even though it is done well in the film, nothing compares to the page of writing that describes Emma Morley (Mayhew at this point) cycling across London to met Dexter when she is his by a van and “everything that she thought or felt vanishes and is gone forever”.

The film received mixed reviews, it’s worth watching, enjoyable if you like romance but incomparable to the book.

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  1. […] my reviews of Pride & Prejudice and One Day I think I’ve saved the best for last in my short series of film adaptation reviews, this […]

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