- May 9, 2003
One Day tries hard to be a dramatic period romance that wears its heart on its sleeve, but there simply isn’t enough substance to give it any foundation. Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway give decent performances in the lead roles, particularly in terms of aging their characters over two decades, but there’s very little depth on display perhaps until the very end of the picture. The Blu-ray provides solid picture and sound along with a few extras, but this is another title that’s difficult to recommend for rental or purchase.
Studio: Universal/Focus Features/Random House Films
Release Year: 2011
Length: 1 hr 48 mins
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, VC-1 (@ an average 35 mbps)
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.6 mbps, Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Film Rating: PG-13 (Sexual Content, Partial Nudity, Language, Some Violence and Substance Abuse)
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott and Romola Garai
Written by: David Nicholls, Based on his Book
Directed by: Lone Scherfig
Review Rating: 2/5
One Day is designed to be a tearful romance spread over time, as the characters make all the wrong choices and some of the right ones. The basic structure follows the lives of Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) over 23 years, visiting them every July 15th to see how they’re managing. And that structure probably works better in its original novel form, where the reader can take more time with each year. But in a film, some of these years and scenes are passing by in moments without much impact. I’ll go more into detail in the next paragraph, but for viewers who want the simple version, there simply isn’t much substance to this film.
SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH – PLEASE READ ONLY IF YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN THE FILM: Among other missteps, the film repeatedly makes the easy choices in terms of what the characters are doing, and in the period music and fashions used to specify each year. One mid-90s scene, showing Emma living with “the wrong guy”, is backed by an unfortunately on-the-nose song choice of Del Amitri’s “Roll to Me”. Getting into more substantive issues, Dexter seems to evolve from being a wandering, care-free world-traveler to a loudmouthed, drug-addled talk show host to a wash-up without any of those lifestyle choices informing him. One truly embarrassing moment has him hosting a late-90s video game show, which makes little sense in terms of the story and seems only to be in the film to show his decline in this career. Similarly, Emma goes on a journey of being an unfulfilled writer to becoming an unappreciated teacher to suddenly switching careers and enjoying a life of success during Dexter’s fall into obscurity. By the end of the film, neither character seems to have been impacted by their life, and they seem to end up in nearly the same relationship they had at the beginning. It’s almost as though this were a version of Forrest Gump, bouncing through 23 years of history without any of it having any lasting impact. When tragedy predictably strikes, there still isn’t much impact beyond the shock effect of one sudden moment – and that’s a moment attentive viewers will see coming ten seconds early. (Hint – if we’ve learned anything from The Sopranos, it’s that any long moment of watching a character doing mundane activity is usually a setup for a brutal surprise…) Anne Hathaway’s performance is fairly good, although her British accent has been heavily criticized in several quarters. In the latter parts of the film, Jim Sturgess’ performance mellows into something rather interesting and moody, and there’s a brief flashback to the very beginning to show that the characters have essentially come full circle. And as grace note, the film ends in flashback as the city lights come on at night, indicating that the day of the title is done.
One Day was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 29th. The Blu-ray edition contains high definition picture and audio of the movie and a few extras. The usual Blu-ray functionality is here, including pocket BLU and BD-Live.
VIDEO QUALITY 4/5
One Day is presented in a 2.35:1 1080p VC-1 encode that presents a variety of European environments and colorful locales in a pleasing manner. The grunginess of the couple’s earlier years is nicely balanced by the beauty of many of the later scenes, and the seams of the different makeups and hairstyles over time don’t show.
AUDIO QUALITY 4/5
One Day gets a properly restrained English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is frontally-designed, but which does provide some atmospheric sound and many period songs in the surround channels. The dialogue is easy to understand throughout.
SPECIAL FEATURES 2/5
One Day comes with a few special features, including some deleted scenes, a few quick featurettes on the making of the film, and a commentary with the director. There’s also the usual Blu-ray functionality.
Feature Commentary With Director Lone Scherfig – This scene-specific commentary finds the director addressing her discussion to Trina Dong of Focus Features, but there’s actually even less substance here than in the film itself. Scherfig is essentially watching the movie with the viewer, and there are many scenes where she’s silent. In some of the scenes, she perks to life to discuss how people have reacted to the onscreen activity. This is probably one of the most reactive and passive commentary tracks we have heard in some time.
Deleted Scenes (4:43 Total, 1080p) – A few deleted scenes are included, particularly from the early portion of the film. There’s nothing earth-shattering here – just a reiteration of what we’ve already seen in the released movie.
Em and Dex, Through The Years (3:41, 1080p) – This is really a collection of clips from the movie, intercut with the usual mutual compliments about the work done to establish the various looks. There isn’t very much here of which to speak.
Anne Hathaway: Bringing Emma to Life (2:17, 1080p) – This is another collection of movie clips, along with a few comments by Anne Hathaway about her role.
The Look of One Day (5:26 Total, 1080p) – This is actually a trio of really short featurettes: “Making a 20 Year Love Story”, “Creating Emma With Anne” and “Dexter’s Transformation”. Once again, the clips from the movie overwhelm everything, and the information quotient is kept to a minimum. This is pretty annoying, and after having watched over ten minutes of this material total, one really has to wonder why it wasn’t combined into a single featurette. As it is, the same film clips get recycled over and over between the featurettes, so that if one edited the repetition out, the total running time would likely come out at perhaps 6 minutes. If you’re looking for substance here, look elsewhere. On the other hand, that may be an appropriate observation for the entire film.
pocket BLU – The usual pocket BLU functionality is present here.
BD-Live – The usual BD-Live functionality is present, including a few online trailers that play as soon as you put the disc in your internet-connected player.
The movie and the special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.
IN THE END...
One Day wants to be a tearjerker and a period romance. It wants to be a great vehicle for Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Unfortunately, it does not succeed in that. It does provide some pretty pictures of various European vistas, and the Blu-ray has good picture and sound. But it’s not a movie that I can recommend for purchase or rental.
December 4, 2011.
Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:
Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “THX” picture mode
Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver
Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player
PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)
5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)
2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)
Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer