TV One Day outperformed the film due to gobby negging, epic sexual tension, and bum-flashing in the shower.

TV One Day outperformed the film due to gobby negging, epic sexual tension, and bum-flashing in the shower.

The best-selling novel by David Nicholls was trampled upon thirteen years ago by a Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway movie. This is how Netflix made TV dynamite out of a box office flop.

Reactions to Netflix’s 2021 announcement of a One Day TV series were tense. Most fans felt that the 2009 romance book by David Nicholls had previously been badly handled ten years before, when it was turned into a movie starring Anne Hathaway. Could its legacy be saved by another adaptation? Or was this the last cut, given that this is the streamer who can so effortlessly ruin a classic (Persuasion, All the Light We Cannot See)?

Two marathon viewings, several hours of ugliness, and a “who is Leo Woodall dating?” After a Google search, there was no need to be concerned. One Day is the site’s second-biggest programme of the year only a few weeks after its premiere; the reviewers loved it, and you’ve probably already binge-watched all 14 episodes (otherwise, what the heck are you even talking about in passing?).

The book has shot back up the bestseller rankings thanks to the reignited popularity. However, what is it about the TV programme that works so well? Where did the movie go wrong so badly? Was it really as horrible as we remembered, if I may ask through little round, rose-colored 90s sunglasses?

For the very few who are unaware, the narrative begins in Edinburgh in 1988 with two graduates spending the night together. Emma Morley is a witty, sardonic, socialist from up north, whereas Dexter Mayhew is a posh, popular, attractive, and a bit of an idiot. They don’t have sex, but they do begin an odd relationship, which they continue for the next twenty years, starting on July 15, St. Swithin’s Day, the anniversary of their meeting.

In the movie, Hathaway has always been held primarily responsible, which may be unjust. Given the emphasis placed on Emma Morley’s Leeds roots, casting Hollywood Hathaway is comparable to casting Austin Butler in a version of Kes. The accent was terrible even though study included viewing Emmerdale. (That being said, there’s something hilarious about Hathaway describing the scent of her first London apartment as ‘onions and disappointment’, regardless of the accent.) In addition, there was the whole implausible “let’s give Hathaway glasses and bushy hair so that she’s more ‘normal'” thing (also seen in The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada).

But holy cow! Jim Sturgess, whose aristocratic flopping about and sighing hardly made a scratch in our emotions, must not be allowed off the hook. Who was the actor who originally portrayed Dexter Mayhew, I see? Closed case.

But, Patricia Clarkson, who plays Dex’s amazing mother, and Romola Garai, who plays his “what is a joke?” lover Sylvie, deserve special recognition for their outstanding performances.

In justification of Hathaway and Sturgess, the movie’s actual issue was running out of time. The important sequences, like the beachside suncream and the dinnertime speech “those who can’t, teach,” were crammed into 148 minutes by director Lone Scherfig. But in recorded history, this is the slowest-burning relationship. It takes twenty years to get lustful—a almost fatal form of sexual tension. It’s important that first night of the chalk-and-cheese couple meeting. After the most boring graduation ever, Dex returns to Emma’s after five minutes thinking, “Yeah, might as well.” They have a little awkward moment, a Tracy Chapman tape turns him off, and they simply end up being friends.

The TV show observed and discovered.

With new British talents, it made a casting breakthrough. Woodall provides a great “arse off the telly” and is heartbreaking when he breaks down on a payphone. His eyes are not as lifeless as Dex’s—they shine. Meanwhile, Ambika Mod is a master of Emma’s sardonic but insecure self-loathing. This sincerity might be explained by the importance of her first casting; she has discussed feeling unfit for the part since she was raised with the belief that “brown women aren’t the standard of beauty.”

They really have “a moment” when they run into one other at the graduation, which is a wild celebration worth having a few beers at. Negging is back at hers. There’s joking around. There are uncomfortable pauses. She is shy yet really apprehensive, so they don’t have any intercourse. I believe the key is that the chemistry is based on curiosity and uniqueness rather than sizzle. A night they don’t want to finish is slowly coming to a close, and Emma says she gets nervous when she hears blackbirds because it seems “like I’ve done something I regret.” “It is the reason I adore it,” Dexter smiles. Oh no. I’m on board.

This is what occurs when every year is given room to grow and gain credibility. Emma’s scenes with her travelling theatrical troupe are not only funny—”My left or stage left?” her lover, an amateur director, asks her as he finger-paints her in the van—but they also position her as a future children’s book author. Additionally, her relationship with Tilly—which serves only as a plot device and source of amusement in the movie—is so endearing that it contributes to some of the most heartfelt scenes (that wedding speech, anyone?).

Additionally, there are all the little things that add up: Every other scene has Dexter with a fag dangling from his lip. The agonising moment (you can sense her dread) when Dex sees Emma, on vacation, staring at him in the shower! The music of nostalgia that makes you want to dance and cry afterwards.

Really, this book was meant to be a flawless streaming series. The movie satiated our curiosity (come on, we all watched it with shame). But instead of Bernard’s watch, Hathaway holds an Oscar. And all of Emma and Dex’s days are what we desire.

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