Friday, 2 September 2011

One Day: Book vs. Film

One Day is the story of Emma and Dexter (Em and Dex), who meet on their final night at university. The book spans their interwoven lives for the next twenty years showing the highs and lows, loves and heartbreaks. The basic concept is that we see a day every year over twenty years to see how their lives develop.

I have made no secret of how underwhelmed I was by the book version of One Day. The characters are not very likeable and I found the plot overly depressing. But there is no question that it was written by a highly skilled author and I can see why so many people loved it. For the full review see Novelicious.
Directed by An Education Director Lone Scherfig, the film version of One Day has received lots of criticism, largely for two reasons. Firstly, the book has a massive legion of devoted fans who dubbed the book life-changing and were never going to be happy with it because it could never do it justice. Secondly, Anne Hathaway.

I must say, normally I am a massive fan of Anne Hathaway. She does silly and cute very well (Princess Diaries), she can sing (check her out with Hugh Jackman on the Oscars!), and is actually very funny and seems nice when interviewed. The funny thing is, her accent is actually quite good. The weirdness of it seems to be why she only has a Yorkshire accent every one in five sentences. She switches between London and Yorkshire like Ross switches between American and British in THAT episode of Friends. She's insisted that the accent was meant to soften when she lived in London but it doesn't. It jumps between the two regardless of what year we're in. She also is just too damn hot to play Emma. Emma is not meant to be ugly - she is meant to be plain. For the love of all that is filmic - please realise film-makers that putting frizzy hair and glasses on a lady does not a minger make! (I take this quite personally as a glasses wearer myself!) There are many many female leads that could have done Emma with more subtlety and in casting her, they have made their biggest error. Though perhaps they will still make so much money from it, the film-makers won't really mind.
Jim Sturgess, on the other hand, was INCREDIBLE! His portrayal of Dexter as he goes through fame, popularity, lots and lots of women and the almost inevitable descent into darkness is gripping. Unlike the book version of Dexter, I actually felt invested in him as a character. When he was sad, I wanted to hug him and when he was being a tool, I wanted to smack him. When I read the book I just wanted Emma to wise up and leave him be.
There was also some great casting in the form of Patricia Clarkson as Dexter's mother Alison, who pulls off all the elements to the character beautifully, Rafe Spall as the horrifically adorable Ian and a great team of supporting cast in the form or Jodie Whittaker, Romola Garai and Georgia King.
David Nicholls, the author of the book, also wrote the screenplay and it’s a true testament to him that he has managed to do a pretty good job. Book to film conversions are always going to be difficult but he has managed to keep the really important parts as they should be and just crop and tighten the rest. Little bits are changed but largely it is the setting that is altered. They are on a roof when they should be in a maze or in France when it should be Italy. But the conversations remain the same, the important facts are not altered. There are also little hints of a book storyline for book fans like when Dex walks out for his live show with a bottle of water. Quite a few story lines are dropped entirely so hardcore book fans will, no doubt, be upset by this. You will be relieved to hear, though, that they do not do a My Sister's Keeper and DESTROY the ending. *Phew!*
All in all, I really enjoyed it! In trimming the fat - so to speak - of the plot, the characters become much more likeable. I found myself actually caring what happened to them both. You can't get too bogged down in the more depressing times because it jumps to the next year so soon that you aren't given the opportunity to really wallow.
If you loved the book, I’d wait a while and watch it on DVD. Nothing major has been altered but there are little things that will bug you. I think the dates have been messed about with a little, one year is completely ignored and the accent – oh that accent – will drive you mad.

If though, like me, you don’t really think the book was all that impressive then check out the film. It's a suitably dark look at the realities of romance and might just be the perfect date film. It's got the grittiness and honesty of a Mike Leigh film but with a hint of Hollywood glamour.


  1. A great review, and one I find it difficult to disagree with, though I think Rafe Spall deserves credit for his pitch-perfect portrayal of Ian.

    I made the mistake of seeing the film just days after finishing the book. The small changes, like the location changes did bother me.

  2. Haha thanks Cat-Cat duly noted! A line has been added (knew I'd forget something!) x

  3. I just finished the book last night and was thinking of going to see the film today but might wait now. I agreed totally with you regarding Dexter in the book I just did not like him as a character and I too felt that Emma should leave him.

  4. Thanks for ur review. Same I finished the book last night and have been contemplating whether to go get their DVD today. Guess I should wait for a month or so. But nonetheless, a very good book which is still bugging me in a weird way. In fact, I am quite disturbed. Didn't expect it to be that dark but it's actually very real and I guess this is what I love about this book.

  5. book/movie lover till de end!!!!!15 December 2011 at 11:49

    the review was great, thx! really helped me for an english project :))!!
    i wached the movie the day it came out because i didn't know that it was ispired by the book(i thought the book looked boring, but that usually happens to me ;)), and THEN read the book!! i just couldn't stop comaring......
    but as i said, great review