Hola all. Massawyrm here.
ONE DAY is exactly the sort of film I wanted to fall in love with. Having been raised by a mother whose favorite film is the Ellen Burstyn/Alan Alda classic SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR – a film that like the originals of today’s other two releases I’ve seen countless times - something predicated on tracking the on again/off again unconsummated romance between to would-be lovers over the course of twenty years seemed ideal. Sadly, despite fantastic performances and brilliant costume and set design, the film lacks the heart it needs to make this worthy of anything more than a decent rental.
The core of what is wrong here can be found in its premise. Revolving around two young schoolmates who meet and almost make love on the last day of school, the two instead decide to become friends and we track their relationship from year to year, always rejoining them on the anniversary of their first meeting: July 15th. The chief concern in such a novel approach would be to make sure that every major event in their lives doesn’t actually occur on the same day every year – and that’s exactly what they manage to avoid doing.
So what’s the problem? Every year we meet our characters as the film tries to find some clever way to catch us up with what’s been going on. For the first few years this works, but it slowly grows tiring as you realize you aren’t actually seeing the high and low watermarks of their relationships – you are merely hearing about them. There are so many major events that transpire in the lives of these two people over the years that it becomes harder and harder for the film to seamlessly work them in. In SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR the gimmick works because the protagonists only talk to each other one weekend every year, otherwise allowing each other to live out their normal, entirely separate lives. That’s not the case here. These two talk all the time. So time and again we endure recaps of the previous year’s misadventures, only occasionally getting a very real, important character building moment out of the two. The result is a relationship in which we miss its most pivotal moments, and instead listen to people giggle or sigh about them later.
Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess both give incredible performances, each maturing gracefully from year to year as the film builds closer and closer to its inevitable conclusion. But once you realize where the film is headed, it runs out of steam trying to get there. Having not been able to witness some of the pair’s most powerful shared moments, we simply aren’t invested enough to feel as deeply for its ending as we’re expected to. It is a classic case of telling us what we should have been shown.
The film’s saving graces are its leads and the fantastic set and costume design that slowly and methodically takes us from year to year, from the late 80’s, on through the 90’s and on into the 00’s. Everything about the world around them feels organic, and the hair and makeup age these two perfectly through the times, giving us a real sense of the changing eras. Sadly, it isn’t enough to make us fall in love – and this is a romance. By the end we should be in love with these two and we just aren’t. It is less a love story of the ages and more a collection of parts whose sum fails to equal the whole. It is a noble experiment, but one that unfortunately falls flat.
Until next time friends,