Based on a novel by David Nicholls, who also wrote the screenplay, One Day stars Anne Hathaway as Emma, an aspiring writer who works as a waitress. Jim Sturgess portrays Dexter, a guy who winds up hosting a TV show before his career (and his life) hit the skids. He's a callow, selfish womanizer who matures into an increasingly dissolute -- if more experienced -- womanizer, the sort of character we once might have expected Hugh Grant to play.
The movie charts the lives of the couple that's not really a couple on one day -- July 15 -- over the course of a couple of decades. Dexter busily indulges his libido, although he does wind up in a serious -- if ill-fated -- relationship. Emma takes up with Ian, played by Rafe Spall, son of the gifted Timothy Spall. It's immediately clear to us that Ian never will make it as the stand-up comic he hopes to be. And we also know that Emma and Ian won't make it as a couple, either. Guys like Ian don't wind up with characters played by Anne Hathaway -- at least not in movies.
Emma and Dexter probably are no less interesting than lots of other big-screen characters, but director Lone Scherfig -- who broke onto the international scene with Italian for Beginners (2000) and who earned acclaim for 2009's An Education -- has made a movie of less-than-fascinating detours en route to what -- even with a surprise twist -- seems inevitable and not especially satisfying.