Written by Jennifer Jensen

Check out our post about the chat we had with David Nicholls!

Though One Day is not the first of bestselling author David Nicholls’ books to be adapted for film, it is both the first novel and movie of his that I have seen. In 2006, David Nicholls wrote the screenplay for his 2003 novel, Starter for Ten (also known as A Question of Attraction). In anticipation for One Day, whose preview I saw for the first time while viewing Water for Elephants, I picked up a copy of the book, just knowing that I would absolutely love it.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat wrong about that. I didn’t love the book, I didn’t always love the characters, and the ending…oh, the ending. I enjoyed Nicholls’ writing style, and I appreciated all the effort that he most certainly put into the structure of the novel. One Day is unique because it spans over 20 years, but out of those 20 years, we only get glimpses of the characters on one day of each year: July 15th. July 15th is the day that future best friends Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morton graduate from college and really talk for the first time. July 15th is also St. Swithun’s Day in England; it is said that if it rains on July 15th, there will then be 40 days of rain.

Even though we only check in with Emma and Dexter on one day of every year, we get to know them really well. Nicholls adeptly gives us background on the characters, their parents, friends, and what they have been up to prior to this particular July 15th. During some chapters, Dexter is extremely difficult to like. He drinks irresponsibly, gets heavily involved with drugs, and says really cruel things to Emma. Emma is frustrating at times as well, though for other reasons. She has so much potential, but is afraid to walk away from her dead-end restaurant job, and can barely handle it when Dexter calls her out on it. Despite that there are times when they really don’t get along, I couldn’t help but believe that these two were meant to end up together–it was just a matter of them realizing it, too.

I think to really appreciate the film adaptation, it’s best to read One Day first. Because there’s only so much the screenplay writer can take from the book to put into the movie, some things do get sacrificed. The great thing with reading the book first is that your mind will automatically fill in the gaps. I felt the film stayed very true to the novel, but I also found myself caring more about Emma and Dexter on screen than I did for the novel versions of Emma and Dexter.

I saw the film on opening weekend (tickets were provided courtesy of Big Honcho Media) and was somewhat surprised at how empty the theatre was. I was even more amazed at how little laughter was heard throughout the theatre. I saw the film with a friend who had also read the book, so we found ourselves chuckling before things even happened on the screen. I felt that even without reading the book first, the audience should still have found specific scenes humorous. Either they really didn’t get the subtle jokes, or just weren’t as into the movie as we were.

We also saw the film with two friends who hadn’t read the book; one unfortunately didn’t care for it very much, and the other enjoyed it. However, only the two of us who had read the book found ourselves crying by the end. We’d expected to be the ones with dry eyes, but it simply wasn’t the case.

The chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess is undeniable, though Ms. Hathaway’s accent in certain places is a bit questionable. I loved watching these two together, and hope that they can be co-stars again in the future. The soundtrack is incredible, and I would consider purchasing it; there are some truly great songs included in the film.

One Day isn’t really a chick-flick, but given that there were a pretty decent number of males in the audience, it has the ability to please both men and women readers/viewers. One Day gets two thumbs up from me.

Have you seen or read One Day? How did you feel about the adaptation?

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.