The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

About One Day and the issues of peaking

with 16 comments

Have you peaked yet? Or are you yet waiting for your breakthrough? Are you still hoping for the moment when all the stars will align and the pieces fall into place and you’ll know what you’re doing with your life and why you’re doing it and all your hidden talents will appear out of nowhere and you’ll be loved by everyone you want to be loved by and you’ll be in better shape than you’ve ever been before and ever will be in the future?

Some people peak early in their lives – maybe a little too early for their own good. Being the most popular girl in preschool isn’t much of a merit when it’s time to get a job. Others are late bloomers, which can be tough. If you’re an un-kissed 19 year old with no friends whatsoever, you’re not helped by that you’ll end up as the happiest, most successful 75 year old in the world.

You never know when you’ll peak. All you can do is to pray silently that you haven’t and that life will get better. It’s only when you’re going to class reunions when the truth comes out and you comparing yourself to the others will see painfully – or delightfully, depending on where you are on your peaking curve – obvious who peaked early and who’s peaking now.

A mismatch in peaking curve is one of the themes for One Day, where we follow Dexter and Emma from their graduation at university and twenty years forward in time, every chapter taking place the same day, July 15. They could have been a couple, but are kept apart most of the book by different circumstances, of which the peaking is one. While Dexter is having the time of his life hosting a popular TV show, Emma is a miserable waitress at a second rate restaurant. For a while they’re barely on speaking terms but things change and so does their relationship.

Squeezed and rushed
I’ll say right away that I was a fan of the novel. It turned out to be the perfect beach companion on a holiday trip. It was easy enough to read, but not dumb or filled with clichés. Dexter and Emma felt like real, human beings.

But sadly enough I’m not sure I can say the same thing about the film version of them. There’s isn’t as much space for them to develop and because they want to stick to the format, not skipping over a single year, you can’t get away from that it feels squeezed and rushed in comparison. I know you shouldn’t compare adaptations to the books they’re based on, but in this case it’s quite natural since it’s following the book so closely. The screenplay is even written by the author of it, which might not have helped. I suppose it’s easier to kill other people’s darlings than your own?

As of the casting, I’ve heard complaints over Anne Hathaway and her efforts to speak with a British accent while being an American. Well, I’m not good enough at recognizing English accents so I didn’t notice and if I had noticed I wouldn’t have cared. I had other issues with her. She’s just a little bit too pretty for being Emma. You can’t hide that she’s a beautiful film star by merely putting on a couple of big, ugly glasses. Jim Sturgess on the other hand is a good match for the role as Dexter. I have no complaints there.

Had hoped for better
I admit that I had hoped for something better. I always hope for movies to be good of course, but maybe a little more when it’s a female director. The women are so few and far between in the film industry and I want the ones there are to succeed and inspire the upcoming generation. Besides I really loved Lone Scherfig’s last film, An Education.

But who knows? Maybe she just hasn’t reached her peaking point yet? That’s what I comfort myself with when I look at my lack of success in life.

The best has yet to come.

One Day (Lone Scherfig, UK, 2011) My rating: 3/5

Written by Jessica

March 28, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in One Day, Uncategorized

16 Responses

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  1. But isn’t it almost always a lost cause to watch a movie like this if you liked the book? I have a nagging suspicion that these kinds of relationship stories are especially hard to translate fully onto the screen.


    March 28, 2012 at 6:13 am

    • There are exceptions, but yes, reading the book before watching a movie often can be a hindrance to embrace it fully. My daughter and her friend watched this one in a theatre when it came out without having read the book and were very enthusiastic over it.


      March 28, 2012 at 7:21 am

  2. I like that peaking point idea. It brings me a lot of optimism. Just for that I might have to check out this film, even if it isn’t a 5/5.


    March 28, 2012 at 6:17 am

    • The film might not capture this as clearly as the book does. My humble recommendation in this case is that you rather read the novel than watch the film tbh. It’s well worth a read.


      March 28, 2012 at 7:24 am

  3. I liked a lot about the book but wasn’t in love with it so I hope that my low expectations for the film will help this to be an enjoyable couple of hours. Totally agree that Hathaway was miscast but on the plus side Sturgess looks pretty annoying and therefore perfect for Dexter.


    March 28, 2012 at 8:35 am

    • It’s a good movie for a day when you don’t want to make too much of an effort. Not annoylingly bad, not unforgettable. So go for it, with the right expectations!


      March 28, 2012 at 8:59 am

  4. I am avoiding this one big time!!

    It looks so far NOT up my street…. Thanks for watching and reviewing it my friend

  5. The more I think about it the more I think the movie is about Anne Hathaway in different shapes of wigs. Nothing more than that. The book on the other hand is about everything BUT wigs. God I love the book!


    March 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    • It was a surprisingly good read. Not just some kind of chick lit as the success of it might suggest. It was way better than that. Wigs, indeed. And glasses!


      March 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

  6. Love the book, probaly never going to see the movie even though Sturgess (one of many favorite actors) is i it. Aleays trying to see to movie first then reading the book.


    March 29, 2012 at 1:54 am

    • It varies which one comes first to me. Often I tend to like what I see or read first better than what comes next, either it’s a film or a movie. But there are exceptions. I liked the film Into the Wild better than the book.
      Anyway: in this case I’d say you can skip it.


      March 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

  7. I thought the idea was good (and I should probably read the book), but it didn’t translate well to the screen. There wasn’t a lot of depth, unfortunately. Still, it was a nice enough film.

    I like what you wrote about peaking, though. For the record, I felt like I peaked last year (with all of the achievements and stuff), and now everything seems to be going downhill. I know have a big life ahead, but at the moments things are going like crap! Oh well. It’d be nice to see a movie that captures the differing peaking times between two people a little better than this.


    March 29, 2012 at 7:57 am

    • I really think you should read the book. It has a lot more depth than the movie and manages to nail the differences in the pacing of Dexter’s and Emma’s lives.


      March 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

  8. I think I peaked at about the same time I learned to walk. Nice work, Jess, I had high hopes for this film too after seeing An Education (vastly underrated film by the standards of my friends) so it’s a little disappointing to hear it doesn’t hold up to the same critical standard.


    March 30, 2012 at 4:55 am

    • Thanks Rodney. Yes, An Enducation was awesome. I’m not sure if the director is to blame for this one not holding up to that standard. It might have to do with the script. Perhaps it wasn’t an ideal book to adapt. It was a concept that worked better as a novel.


      March 30, 2012 at 7:58 am

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