Saturday, August 20, 2011

'One Day' - A sweet, compelling look at love and lost time....

'One Day', is a story about unrequited love; it is the story of 'the one' that is always just an arms length away, of 'the one' that is seemingly always trapped in a relationship that is either fatally doomed or restricted by a love that is there but never filled with passion. It is a story of memories and regret, the recognition that 'the one' can be as close as your best friend who has loved you from day one. It is the story of two friends who become entwined through the lengths of time by the bonds of true friendship, with the promise of true love always a chance situation away.

Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the night they graduate from college, July 15th, 1988 and spend the night together. The story follows them on that date through out the years as their paths cross and recross, their friendship as well as love growing. Emma is a mousy would be writer and Dexter is an aspiring TV host. She holds a job as a waitress where she meets Ian (Rafe Spall) a coworker who is an aspiring stand-up comic. Dexter, a country away, becomes the host of an annoying teen talk show, his personailty rising to the status of the man you love to hate. Neither Emma or Dexter live up to their full potential; but as in all things life happens; Emma moves in with Ian, Dexter marries and his mother passes away, and all the while the two remain in touch making us believe that they will eventually wake up and end together.

The story covers nearly two decades and is as much about the growth of the two as it is about memory and regret; about how two people can effect the lives of each other. As much as it is about maturing, what may seem like success in our twenties may not be success in our forties; what may be a priotity in our twenties may not be the priorities in our forties; it is also about enduring friendship and love; by the end, it is a thoughtful lesson in wasting opportunities and time.

Hathaway is charming and effective as the love struck Emma, always longing for Dexter but always maintaining the friendship. Many will fault her forced english accent, but for my part I was able to see beyond that and enjoy her touching performance. Through the years she is close to Dexter and sees him through some troubling times, even while Ian, who she has lived with for many years at this point, fails to fill the gap for her. She loves him, there is no doubt there, but he simply does not fill her life. In a particulary telling moment, Ian informs Dexter just how good for Emma he was and, subsequently just how better of a man she made Dexter.

Sturgis is well on his way to stardom building a portfolio of quiet yet powerful roles. As Dexter, he is the man that could easily get by on his good looks and glibness yet always yearning but not understanding how to get to something more. Later in life, Dexter faces trials that mature him and make him a better person; trials and of course Emma.
Both friends, early in their lives, never really live up to the potential they have. Emma is sastified with working as a waitress and living with a man, who while cares for her and is good to her, in a passionless love. Dexter follows a different path after tanking as a TV host and marrying a woman who never really loved him from the start because he fathered a child with her.

Finally (spoiler alert here, although not really), the two freinds admit to the love and passion they have felt for each other and finally embrace it. They marry and we are treated to a classic love story, only to have it cruelly stolen away, leaving Dexter broken for a short time, but stronger for having Emma fully.

'One Day' is moving and compelling, the lesson of lost opportunities and wasted time are aparent as well as duly noted. The more cynical person would merely sneer off this 3 star effort, but a more emotional person will see the truth in living an unrequited life, settling for the familiar rather than embracing all of the passion and adventure that a full love can provide.

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