Making the Grades
Many a movie has been made about perpetually sad and confused couples, and One Day can be added to that list. This reincarnation follows Dexter and Emma (Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway), a continually drunk man and a bookwormish girl who meet in college. It appears the stereotypical plot hopes the obvious challenges of this mismatched pair getting together and finding love will hold our attention for the remaining 107 minutes.
Their story begins on July 15, 1988, when the newly graduated students head back to Dexter’s flat with the intentions of having celebratory sex. Oddly, the playboy’s hormones suddenly take a vacation during the few minutes it takes Emma to remove her awkward glasses, poof her hair and strike a sensual pose in her underwear and grad gown. So instead of consummating their relationship, they pledge to be best buddies and fall asleep together.
Their snooze-fest continues with the script checking in on what’s happening in their lives each July 15. Emma’s poetry degree qualifies her for a job at a restaurant. Dexter continues to bed women, and somehow manages to land a gig as the host of a late night television show. Yet, for some reason, she still yearns for him and he is still willing to spend time on the phone with her, even while his latest dalliance dances naked on the footboard of his brass bed (she is seen from the rear).
As the years go by Emma’s priggish mannerisms and looks are slowly mellowed to reveal the Anne Hathaway within—which is especially evident during a skinny-dipping scene with nudity seen from afar. Dexter slowly becomes more interested, but he still can’t get his head around monogamous sex.
Eventually Dexter marries someone else, Emma gets into a relationship with an aspiring comedian and life progresses forward—but the plot doesn’t. About another decade and two failed relationships later, it appears these lost souls may have finally figured out what it is that keeps them coming back into each other’s life on that fateful summer date.
Parents considering this title for their teens should be aware that along with the aforementioned nudity there is also a quick view of male and female bodies on a clothing optional beach. Some non-explicit sexual discussions are heard and pre-sexual passionate moments are portrayed. Language, though surprisingly sparse, includes a single sexual expletive, a vulgar British term for sex and a few other profanities. A fight and a startling accident result in bloody injuries. And frequent drinking (to the point of drunkenness), as well as a scene of drug use are depicted.
The film does offer positive messages about the happiness of committed relationships versus living life alone. Yet while we have empathy for Emma, it is still difficult to understand what it is about this sex crazed, boozing loser that keeps her so entranced. Failing to create much sympathy for Dexter, One Day will likely leave the audience feeling just as lost and hopeless as its two principal characters.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about One Day.
Does a movie like this motivate you to seek a committed relationship? What are the depicted benefits of this kind of an arrangement? What negatives are shown? Why do you think the bulk of this film shows the many years of seeking love? Do you think audiences might find this more or less interesting?
Why are consequences for Dexter’s choices not included? What might the real physical and mental health risks be? What economic and social repercussions could result from this non-committal lifestyle?
This movie is based on the novel One Day, by David Nicholls.