Friday, August 19, 2011

One Day

MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-III) Roger Ebert (3 Stars) Fr. Dennis (3 ½ Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert’s review -

One Day (directed by Lone Scherfig, book and screenplay written by David Nicholls) is an intelligent young adult love story that’s part Brigit Jones' Diary, part Unbearable Lightness of Being and part St. Elmo’s Fire that I do hope is remembered come Oscar time this winter as I do believe it deserves at least consideration for a whole bunch of Academy Awards from Best Film/Director/Adapted Screenplay to Best Actor/Actress in Leading Roles and even Best Actor/Actress in Supporting Roles (the male leading character's parents).

The story begins on college graduation day, July 15, 1988 at the University of Edinburgh.  Emma (played by Anne Hatheway) and Dexter (played by Jim Sturgess) are part of a group celebrating.  As the group begins to break up, since neither seems to find themselves attached to anyone, Emma invites Dexter to come with her to her dorm room/flat.  When they arrive, Emma, not at all self-assured, quietly panics and excuses herself to the bathroom “to brush her teeth.”  In reality, she’s practically gasping for air.  She apparently stays in the bathroom long enough to both regain her own courage and too break the mood.  When she returns, she finds Dexter putting his clothes back on to leave.  She convinces him to stay, but they decide simply to cuddle.  In the course of the gentle but very cautious pillow-talk, Dex tells Emma that the day is St. Swithin's Day, a sort of random Saint’s Day that follows them, year after year, for the rest of film.  Indeed the rest of the movie is about what these two characters are up to on this particular day, July 15th, during the 20 years that follow.

The device is wonderful because it becomes clear fairly quickly that in 1988, college graduates though they may be, _neither_ is really ready for the other.  Emma is still growing into who she becomes, and Dex begins as something of a cad.  The phenomenon chronicled in this film, which has been the bane of both Catholic vocation directors and parents alike, is what has come to be called Emerging Adulthood.  Indeed both of Dex’s parents, Allison (played by Patricia Clarkson) and Steven (played by Ken Scott) were excellent in expressing, in different (if often pointed/poignant) ways their frustrations with Dex’s apparent laziness in growing-up. 

To the movie’s _credit_, the pitfalls of “not growing-up” or “taking one’s time to grow-up” are amply shown in the film:  Both life and tragedy go on for Dex’s parents as he meanders his way through his 20s.  At one point, Dex marries a girlfriend simply because he knocked her up.  A child, Jasmine (played by numerous child actresses during the course of the film) is born, but the marriage ends in divorce.  In the meantime, Emma gets involved with a man from her work who she does not really love ... but is available and around.  When Dex and Emma are finally ready for each other, the biological clock has ticked-away a good part of its course.  

The movie is _honest_ and _often very, very sad_ as we, the audience, see missed opportunity after missed opportunity.  But do we look at our own lives as critically and as closely? 

Parents: There is _some_ passing nudity, but obviously many references to premarital sexual activity.  For that reason alone, many parents would not find it suitable for kids or young teens.  But beyond that, I simply don’t think that someone below college age would find the movie very interesting at all.  However, for the college aged and above, I do believe that the movie would make for an excellent discussion piece among friends and (in a _good and heartfelt way_) _with one’s own parents_.

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