Jim Sturgess' face here implies something much more awesome than you get
Before 2004, movies were a wasteland for the poor fans of the Romantic Drama. The 90's with it's slacker revolutionaries and its cultural rejection of baroque emotion, had pretty much laughed the genre out of the cinemas. They deemed the Romantic comedy the more tolerable and acceptable home for this stuff, if it had to have a home, because at least that way maybe someone would hit Hugh Grant in the face amongst the sentimentality. But then a little movie called The Notebook came, starring some green indie star and Lindsay Lohan's second fiddle in Mean Girls and these fans decided they had enough. They no longer cared that everyone called them ridiculous, they no longer cared what critics or society said about this kind of film or the people that watched it. They drew their line in the sand and resurrected a genre.
And for about 5 or 6 years, that genre mostly fueled by the works of Nicholas Sparks but not exclusively did very well for itself, tales of unlikely but always exceptionally good-looking love ending in artificial tragedy, spanning over time to give gravitas. This Weepie 2.0 seemed to thrive on crude sentimentally and never was met with much enthusiasm from those outside the faith. Even the genre's Godfather, The Notebook itself, was met more with tolerance than excitement, which its current rating of 52% on Rotten Tomatoes will testify to. But in spite of this, I don't begrudge the film it's success in part because if there's an audience for this kind of thing, then they should get this kind of thing. But just as it's ridiculous when boys try and argue that Commando or Enter The Dragon are some kind of classic, it is when people try and say these new generation of weepies is anything but derivative, lowest common denominator junk food.
Which brings me to One Day, which actually I didn't hate quite as much I expected, largely because it kept the swooning to a minimum and played things out relatively realistically. Or at least realistically for this kind of thing. For the most part I enjoyed the acting, Jim Sturgess is never going to be the charismatic actor in the world, but he does a job and plays the cad well enough here. As for Anne Hathaway, much has been made of her accent in this, and while I'm not from yorkshire, it didn't offend me, and I found it to be more convincing than Patricia Clarkson. Hathaway is a rarity in that she manages to relatable in almost any role, and seems to give off a natural breeziness that perhaps limits her as actress but also makes her excellent in the right kind of role. She and Sturgess work well together, and for the most part the film focuses on their respective lives outside of their love story, which I also liked.
It's not incredible or anything, but rather it functions. And it functions on a slightly more credible level than films of its type in the past have. It's still trite, particularly in its final third, which falls into the same old saccharine cliches of the weepie, but as a moderately realistic look at time-spanning love? Well I suppose you could do worse. It is telling to note though the failure of this film to catch on, particularly at the US Box office. Does it signal the end of the brief revival of the romantic drama. It's probably the beginning of the end.