“Live each day as if it’s your last”, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance”.
“One day” is a novel by David Nicholls. A few notes about the author tell us he was an actor before making his way in writing. His bestselling first novel is Starter for Ten. He wrote the screenplay for the film version which was released in 2006 and starred James McAvoy.
Going back to One Day, it was published in 2009 and it was immediately a great success. To say more, The Times compared it to the famous When Harry met Sally. In 2010, the novel was named Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the UK’s annual Galaxy National Book Awards ceremony and, later, it was granted the accolade of Galaxy Book of the Year.
What is the novel about? It tells the story of two guys, Dexter and Emma. It is 15 July 1988. It is early in the morning when they wake up after spending the night together. It is not a usual night. It is not because it is the night right after their graduation. It is not because their lives are going to change.
From now on, the author guides us through their lives, for 20 years and 448 pages. So, we have enough time to get to know them, to understand their feelings and their thoughts, that is, to make friends with them.
The great thing about these characters is that they actually represent well identifiable social types. So there is Dexter, the cool guy a huge part of the college is in love with. But you know there is another part who hates him, with his arrogance, his boozes, his always over the top behaviour.
Then you have Em, the typical smart but not too pretty girl, with her glasses and her books, the one you would never think could have something with the cool guy.
But it happens. They have something together, something which will not last just the time of a drunk night, no, it will go on…just read the end of the book to discover ‘til when.
20 years and 448 pages to follow their lives, step by step, ‘til the surprising end of the book.
John O’Connell wrote in The Times: “For, in spite of its comic gloss, One Day is really about loneliness and the casual savagery of fate; the tragic gap between youthful aspiration and the compromises that we end up tolerating”.
He is right. If we had to choose only one adjective to describe this book, it would be ‘bittersweet’. As bittersweet as life is. And probably this is the key of its success. One day is a real and sincere story of two normal people. You go on reading and you realize you already know Dex and Em, they look exactly like those two school colleagues …
2009: a great book which gained a great success. 2011: when a book is so successful it is almost natural to make a movie of it. At the time of the book’s publication, Nicholls wrote that he wanted to adapt his novel as a film script. Two years later, Lone Scherfig did it. So we have this movie, with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess starring.
I won’t tell you if you should watch it or not. It depends on you. If you belong to that category of people who are truly in love with books and if you have the opinion that, in every case, the book is always better than the movie, please don’t go to the cinema or turn off your dvd. But if you feel like you should always give a chance, then watch it.
To be honest, the movie hasn’t received excellent reviews from critics. As for me, I didn’t appreciate it at all. The movie is probably a strange mixture of time, with its ‘too fast times’ with respect to the book but its ‘too slow times’ with respect to the cinematic language: to tell it using the words of Peter Hiwell, it is just like “the monotony of the relentless turning of calendar pages”.
In spite of this, we can recognize some good things, some nice elements which could push people to watch it. The movie is fresh and, above all, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are great at playing their roles, they have the right faces, they look just like you imagined Dex and Em.
And, last but not least, the movie is mostly faithful to the book.
So that’s all for now.
Enjoy the book and the movie!