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One Day

July 15 is known to the British as St. Swithin’s Day. Tradition holds that whatever the weather is that day will hold for 40 days thereafter. This seems to make it roughly the equivalent of our Groundhog’s Day, and pretty much as valid a predictor of the weather.

Why author David Nicholls chose this as the date to revisit over a period of 20 years in the relationship of a pair who meet as students in 1988 may have been clear in his novel, but it isn’t in the movie. On the night of their graduation from university, bookish Emma (Anne Hathaway) and carefree Dexter (Jim Sturgess) narrowly evade moving from classmates to lovers, instead bouncing sideways into friendship with a component of unrequited lust that moves from side to side. The gimmick is that we drop in on them every year on July 15 to see how they and their (non)relationship are faring.

To a degree, One Day is the opposite of the recent spate of “friends with benefits” movies, as Em and Dex determine to keep their friendship chaste. For awhile Emma seems stuck at the bottom rung of the economy, working in a Mexican restaurant, while Dexter’s family connections get him a job in television and all the gleeful corruption that implies. But just when we’ve settled into what appears to be a pleasantly predictable take, Nicholls decides to pull the rug out from underneath us with a melodramatic turn for the worse.

Those of you who enjoy a good cry at the movies will probably eat it up (and what a week for you with both this and Sarah’s Key). Otherwise, I don’t regret spending a hundred minutes with Hathaway, as pleasant a young actress as there is working these days, even if her British accent does seem to wander all over the map.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for One Day

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