One Day

One Day More

Main Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess

Director: Lone Scherfig

Normy and I are off to Pascagoula in the morning for my first rehearsals for Rigoletto.  I have been diligently studying the score, but it all seems to be in Italian and I’m not that familiar with the language, despite having spent some time at Cinecitta Studios a few years back filming Two Mules for Buona Sera.  Quite frankly, so much chianti was consumed on that particular set that I have difficulty recalling much about the film.  I think it had something to do with an Italian war bride stringing along three different husbands and a pack mule train on the Amalfi coast.  It was early in my career so I had a very small part as a muleteer who told Elaine Stritch and Rock Hudson to stop throwing each other in the fountain.  I believe it occasionally turns up late night on Turner Classic Movies.

Rigoletto promises to be great fun as the music is full of catchy melodies that remind me of pizza commercials.  There must be a misprint in the score, however, as Rigoletto, the title character, seems to be written entirely in bass clef and I am well known for my ringing mezzo-soprano with a clear upper register.  I’m sure we can get it all sorted out when I turn up for rehearsal.  There also seems to be a paucity of dance breaks.  My legs are rapidly becoming reconditioned and those opulent court scenes demand some of my special brand of tap spectacular.  I’m packing all of my tap shoes and a number of fetching little tap shorts and I’m sure I can find a way of working them in.

I have barely had time to think, what with preparations for the trip, but I did turn on HBO on the home theater while sorting Jim Sturgess by Wesolorleverything into my lovely set of matching Louis Vuitton luggage (thirty four pieces for me and three for Normy).  The movie that started playing soon thereafter was entitled One Day and stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.  It was a film that I had not heard of before and I soon found that my furbelows had to take second place to my film watching and criticism.

One Day is, in many ways, more of a concept than a film.  It follows the intertwining lives of two young British people, Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Sturgess) over the course of several decades as they wander in and out of each other’s lives and affections.  We first meet them on July 15th, 1988 when they graduate from college and meet cute after a night of too much drink and frolic.  We then check in with them on July 15th in multiple subsequent years where we see them sink into the compromises of middle age with detours into bad jobs, bad marriages and bad habits.  I’m not clear why July 15th.  It is St. Swithin’s Day and in traditional English folklore, the weather on that day will continue for the next forty days but no one runs around looking at the sky or commenting on the likelihood of rain.  Strategically placed titles let us know where we are in time as we continuously flash forward.  Keeping it on the same day probably saved them on costs as they never needed to change those words.

Hathaway’s Emma is a variation on her character from The Princess Diaries, starting out with bushy hair and eyebrows and Anne Hathaway by Christopherpetersonbad glasses and becoming sleeker and more coltish with the passing years, until she has the stunning movie star looks we expect and which are not terribly in keeping with her character as written.  Sturgess’ progression appears to be limited to some grey Shinola in his hair in the later scenes.  The two of them are obviously having fun with their roles, playing different facets of their characters as their relationship grows and changes through friendship, in and out of romance, and ultimately tragedy.  However, it is not so much fun for the viewer who feels like he or she is watching an extended college acting class rather than a film.  There is much to like in the performances (and Hathaway’s British accent is impeccable to my ears) but they ultimately ring false as two decades of life and transformation in two hours leads to nowhere near enough time spent in any one day.

The screenplay, by David Nicholls, based on his book of the same name, is pedestrian.  It never really brings our two central characters to life or gives us much insight as to why they are compelled to remain in each other’s lives over time.  After some of their messier episodes, I kept wondering why they weren’t rid of each other altogether but I suppose that would have made the film about thirty minutes long.  The direction, by Lone Scherfig, emphasizes the quirky and off-kilter in life which makes the film more of a compelling watch than it should be.

Some of the supporting players such as Romola Garai and Rafe Spall who play competing love interests are very strong and Patricia Clarkson and Ken Stott make the most of their brief scenes as Dexter’s parents.  The end result, however, remains more academic exercise in the possibilities of storytelling than an actual story.

Hill climbing.  Bad eyewear. Skinny dipping.  Nude beaches.  Gratuitous school play.  Bad TV interviews.  Bicycle accident. Substance abuse. Jazz piano.

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, visit our introduction.  You can read her back catalog here.

photos by Christopherpeterson and Wesolorl

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