Director Lone Scherfig (An Education) teams up with novelist David Nicholls, adapting his own book, and stars Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway to re-create a one-day-a-year romance and drama of a pair of star-crossed lovers who meet the night of their college graduation and struggle to remain connected over the course of two decades. The plot device of spying into their lives on the same day of every year loses its luster quickly on film, especially after their terribly predictable meet-cute introduction on graduation night that … wait for it, doesn’t lead to them immediately sleeping together (don’t worry, that’s not a major spoiler).
Emma (Hathaway) is much to smart and guarded to do such a thing — even though she’s apparently had a crush on Dexter (Sturgess) since day one, which happens to have been some time before the actual day that the proceedings here kickoff. This rather silly one-day thing handcuffs Scherfig, a director acutely attuned to emotional nuance and its onscreen realization. She hasn’t any real means of connecting the dots in the individual lives of Emma and Dexter beyond the single day (July 15) that we see them each year, which means that the shifts in their situations feel sudden and random, not defining characteristics for the audience to grasp and relate to.
Even though Hathaway and Sturgess are charismatic performers, there’s only so much they can do to breathe life into the fragmented moments here that feel like outtakes from a remake of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Grade: C-plus
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