One Day: Why it stands out in the sea of mediocre romantic films

One Day is a 2011 Romantic Drama directed by Lone Scherfig. The film is centered on the life of two people, and we follow them over 18 years on that same date of 15th July. Here’s the analysis of the plot and the central theme of the film One Day.

The cast of One Day has Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in the leading roles and is their journey through the years. This article is written by Utkarsh Gautam. You can follow him on his Instagram.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

One Day Analysis: Main Theme

What’s love? That’s a question not many can answer. It’s a question that has many answers, and yet, none. We experience the feeling we define as love everywhere around us, in reality, and on-screen, and we sure are amused by it.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that since the inception of cinema, we’ve been catered to by filmmakers with an enormous amount of movies that talk about love, tell love stories, or have lovers as a part of them. But very few of them manage to stand out from others. The romantic genre has been explored to its depths and been used so many times that everything that comes out of it now seems like something simple or something we’ve watched before. 

One Day manages to stand out. 

One Day: About The Film

One Day is a 2011 British-American romantic tragedy film directed by Lone Scherfig, and starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. It was adapted by David Nicholls from his 2009 novel of the same name. David Nicholls has also written the screenplay for the film.

NoteI’d like to bring to notice that I’ve not read the book. When a movie is good, the book is always better, and the readers of the book feel disappointed in the film. That’s bound to happen. But I’ve watched and written about this with my first reactions and thoughts on watching just the movie and accepting it as all there is to the story and characters. 

One Day: The Plot Synopsis

One Day is the story of Dexter and Emma. They meet each other for the first time on their university graduation day, 15th July, in 1988. They talk, they laugh, and in no time they are at Emma’s flat, kissing. But things get awkward too fast, and they spend a platonic night together cuddling and decide they are going to be friends. Dexter tells Emma that it’s St. Swithin’s Day that day, Fifteenth of July. We get peeks into Emma and Dexter’s lives every year from then on 15th July for 18 years from 1988 (when they first met) to 2006. The film runs in a linear screenplay and works in swift transitions in-between years. We are just shown two people and their lives in gaps of a year on the same date, and still, it feels like we know them and are a part of their shared story.

One Day What is the film trying to say?

One Day Analysis: What Is The Film Trying To Say?

The theme of the film tries to say how love is friendship. Sometimes more than that, but basically a friendship shared by people who value and care about each other. After meeting on graduation day and deciding to stay friends, they spend their lives sometimes being friends, sometimes becoming more than that. They date other people, of course, and sometimes have their own moments where they slip and let go of the boundaries of friendship. Sometimes they’re together and sometimes they are away in their separate lives. Sometimes they meet or sometimes they just talk on calls. 

In one emotional scene of the film, Emma tells Dexter that she loves him, she loves him very much, but for now, she just doesn’t like him. They have their problems, fights, breakdowns, but they are never apart. Even when not together, cities apart, they are in each other’s thoughts. They are not black and white characters. They are grey, and that portrayal makes them real. Dexter is an alcoholic sometimes. Emma wants to be a writer but has to work as a waitress because she needs money. Dexter is wealthy and successful for a time but doesn’t love what he does and still pretends that he likes it. Emma doesn’t love the guy she’s been dating for two years but gets a flat with him. They make mistakes, and they feel real. Obviously, their lives are not about each other all the time. They have other people to take care of, to be with. The film does not choose to ignore the parts other than the romance, and that’s what makes us feel the connection.

One Day Emma and Dexter are they lovers?

Are Emma and Dexter Lovers? What Are They?

There’s an unacknowledged tension between Emma and Dexter that smells of romance. But they never go through with it perhaps because of the fear of spoiling a great friendship. They love each other but from a distance. They want each other but don’t act on it. They need each other for sanity. They try to save themselves by getting rid of each other, but that never really works. One or another thing happens, and they come running to each other for comfort. They can’t stay apart. So are they lovers? Is this a story about unrequited love? Not really. They started as friends, and no matter what feelings they possess for each other, they are always going to remain each other’s friend. They get romantically involved, but it still has that sense of fondness that friends have.

One Day Emma and Dexter Together

One Day Analysis: Why I Love The Film

One Day touches on a topic that has not been talked about enough. We grow. We change. People outgrow each other over time, develop new habits, and sometimes they change altogether. One Day shows us how people grow. Dexter and Emma grew together. And maybe that’ why they feel so deeply for each other. From being college students to being middle-aged people with problems that just got bigger and bigger, they stuck and were part of each other’s journey of growth. One year Emma is a waitress, the next year she’s a teacher and the next she’s finally written a book. One year Dexter is a TV presenter and the following year he’s an alcoholic too. One year his mother is cheery and loving; the next year, she has a terminal disease. The movie captures the essence of growth, change, transitions, and time very beautifully. They look different over the years as they get older. They change cities, their dressing styles evolve, and so does the technology. One year Emma says that she’s never going to buy a mobile phone and the next year we see that she has one (obviously).

My analysis of One Day is it’s immensely high on emotions. It surprises you in places. The last few scenes of the movie just make you go through all that you’ve seen in the film very subtly. You see change. The creators pull this off with class, and I loved every part of it. Dexter and Emma are flawed and still lovable. You root for them, you want them to be happy and together. Emma makes Dexter decent, and he makes her happy. 

We’ve Had Today by Rachel Portman is the title soundtrack of the film, and it’s beautiful. It continually plays through the film, the first and the last scenes, and fills each one of them with softness and warmth. 

In one of the last scenes, Emma and Dexter are hiking up Arthur’s seat, talking. Emma tells him that whatever happens tomorrow, they’ve had today.