ONE DAY directed by Lone Scherfig (UK, 2011)

I loved David Nicholls’ novel and thought that a movie version would only work if they got the casting for the main characters right. I was wrong.

This is a rare instance where the actors are extremely well chosen but, even so, the story just doesn’t translate well to the big screen.

The plot device of jumping from year to year where we learn only about what happens on each successive St Swithen’s Day (15th July), is one that works well on the page but feels overly constrictive in cinematic terms.

Emma and Dexter pass years from 1988 onwards platonically and the question of will they or won’t they become more than just good friends keeps you hooked. It’s hard to not feel cheated that when they do actually do get it on, this occurs off camera i.e. not on the 15th July.

The disappointment is no reflection on the performances – Anne Hathaway as Emma Morley, Jim Sturgess as Dexter Mayhew and Rafe Small as Ian are all excellent. Hathaway’s Yorkshire accent comes and goes but she nevertheless manages to convince as she blossoms from frumpy non achiever to successful novelist; her upward trajectory mirroring the declining fortunes of Dexter.

Perhaps the mistake was for Nicholls himself to write the screenplay, someone else might have been more inclined to open the story up a little. What happens instead is that the structure of the novel is followed too faithfully.

This is admirable on one count, in that a Holllywood treatment would have insisted on a schmaltzier finale than the heartbreaking end of the original. This had me in tears when I read it but , sadly for the film, there was a dry eye in my house.