Saturday, August 20, 2011

One Day (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

One Day

"One Day" hits all the familiar notes of a romance and has an earthy English appeal that will satisfy any Anglophile. Adorable and earnest Jim Sturgess stars as Dexter, a confident and charming young ladies man. Upon graduation, Dexter meets Emma, played by Anne Hathaway whose bookish seriousness makes a good contrast to the twinkle-eyed Dexter. A cad with a good heart. Dexter and Emma spontaneously wing a day of amorous activity, inspired by spirits and presumably, the challenge of platonic lovers. 
This film, in contrast to "Friends with Benefits" is more pedestrian with soft pathos, possessing an "as is" quality similar to the films of Mike Mills ("Beginners") and Mike Meyers ("Harvest") both of which played at The Tropic. There are no picturesque New York scenes here, no sparkling offices, no iPads or references to Judd Apatow. These are people who eek out existences in messy cluttered flats with peeling paint. This spare-frills drama recalls "The East Enders".  The characters are not over-glossed with glamour. (Okay, you might have to overlook Sturgess' smile, but why try?) These are home-spun types, there is not a Clooney to be seen, but the movie is no less effective as a romance.

Dexter gets a job as a late night show host. He clearly cares about whatever glitz there is to be gained in London. They grow apart. Of course. But Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway are poignant and transfixing together.

My one slight reservation is that in watching "One Day", you often know what's going to happen before it does. How many missed phone calls can we see in film after film? Do romantic dramas have a monopoly in this? Perhaps so, but I'm sure there are other ways to show the perils of romantic happenstance.
The primary draw is chemistry however, and Sturgess and Hathaway have it. The organic charm they share over a timeline of two decades,fits smoothly within the one visual trick of the film when it displays the date of each meeting between them in clever places: a laptop, a mirror a window. This quirky visual trifle, cute as it is, highlights an epic romance. Every person can be a Romeo.
Highlights are the secondary players of Patricia Clarkson as Dexter's mom and  Rafe Spall as the unfunny comic, Ian. Every role has slight shadows  and struggles within them. There is not a hint of contrivance in any of these people. They are human  And not one of them is mean spirited. The events just seem a bit familiar. 
But like the haunting Beatles tune "Eleanor Rigby" or the sweet nostalgia of "Penny Lane" which foretells the tone of this film,  we know what to expect, but we love it and return for more.

And in  watching "One Day," you'll pull for all the characters involved.

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