Review: “One Day” (2011)

“One Day” (2011)

A Film by Lone Scherfig

Ah, the month of love.  Chocolate candies, roses, and of course, love stories.  Last week, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought it fitting to review a film that features a love story.  “One Day” is based on the best-selling book by David Nicholls.

Can a woman’s love make a man a better person?  This age old question envelops the film and follows Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess).  Their love story starts out on the day of their college graduation on July 15, 1988.   The film follows their relationship by checking in with them every year on the anniversary of their graduation.  They are not always together but manage to keep some type of connection throughout the years.

Emma is determined to become a writer but ends up working at a Mexican restaurant after her move to London.  She takes a few detours in her professional life and eventually finds her way back to writing.  Dex, on the other hand, is all about living it up and squeezing every last bit of fun out of life.  He starts a career in television production and quickly starts partying too hard and becomes a drug addict.  His life seems glamorous when compared with Emma’s steady progression, but Dexter’s party boy life puts him on the fast track to self-destruction.

They stay a constant in each other’s lives even after Dexter gets married and Emma starts dating Ian (Rafe Spall).  They keep getting brought back together, sometimes by chance and sometimes by choice.  I know some would say that Emma should just give up on Dex because he should take care of himself, but I can’t help but think that they bring out the best in each other.  Although, yes—there were times when Dex got a bit whiny and just needed to grow up and stop calling Emma every time he was in a jam.

While some love stories can be predictable and cliché, I appreciated that “One Day” wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows.  Some critics have said that Lone Scherfig’s films have light humor, though a pervasive sense of tragic prevails.  I believe this to be right on point with “One Day.”  She dives deeper into the characters and keeps the story flowing with twists and turns.  She brings the ordinary to life and makes you want to invest in the characters and their fates.  This might not be a typical love story, but it is definitely one worth watching.


Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.