Recommended Read: Book vs Movie: One Day (David Nicholls)

I LOVED the book One Day by David Nicholls. It was a wonderful modern take on the classic romance saga.

Nicholls is first and foremost a screenwriter who has successfully forayed into the world of fiction writing. Not surprisingly, however, the film rights for One Day were quickly picked up and it was released just last week in cinemas in North America. It stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

So, of course, as with any film adaptation of a novel, the question arises: Which was better?

(I think we should stop asking this question, but that’s another post for another day.)

In this case, it was definitely the book, but I have further thoughts on it for those of you who care to read about such things. The big debate was Anne Hathaway’s accent. In the book her character, Emma Morley, is from Yorkshire and is studying in Edinburgh, then moves to London. A lot is made of the fact that she is from a more down-to-earth working-class background in Yorkshire than Dexter, her love interest in the book, who is from a more well-to-do southern family. The trailers that were released for the movie did not do Anne Hathaway’s accent any favours. They made it sound like either the complete cliche of an American doing a British accent (think forced, posh London) and occasionally it sounded as though it lapsed into American. Was it any different for the movie?

In her defense, Anne’s accent wasn’t as terrible as it seemed in the trailer. In the moments where she lapses out of the formal London accent she does do a convincing Yorkshire accent, so she does bring hints of it into her work. I suppose she didn’t feel brave enough to go Yorkshire the whole way, which I suppose is fair enough; it’s not a really easy accent. And clearly her doing a posh London accent isn’t an issue for the film as they avoided focusing on the class difference between them too much, I suppose assuming an American audience that is less familiar with Britain’s class dynamic wouldn’t buy into it that much, which is true.

Although David Nicholls is a screenwriter, he did say he wanted to write an epic Tess of the D’Urbeville-type novel with One Day and that’s what you felt when reading the book because of the depth of the characters and the way he explored each passing year of their life. That doesn’t translate brilliantly to film because there isn’t time to explore each year fully, and yet skipping a year wouldn’t seem to make any sense because you would a) lose track of the progression of events in the character’s lives and b) detract from the narrative device of having a ‘yearly check-in’ theme anyway. But sadly there isn’t enough time to properly explore the years so some years were simply given a quick 20-second scene to show you, yep, okay, Em and Dex are happy now et cetera.

This wasn’t a huge deal and wouldn’t be a deal at all in and of itself but it is directly contrasted with the years before and after which they spent much longer on and in much more detail, and in that way you realize how well the extra time serves the story. So I would just say be prepared to be irritated at some of the brief check-ins which annoy us as we know what happened in those years as readers but are necessary for consistency of theme and for the audience’s knowledge if they are new to the story. I just way preferred the sections that were afforded 10 + minutes per year.

Honestly I didn’t think it was nearly as bad as I was expecting but perhaps that was because my expectations are low :). But I also have long given up on expecting movies to live up to books; now I just hope that they don’t insult them, and I really don’t feel this one insulted its source material. So that’s good, no?

What did you all think of the movie? Did you see it or read the book? I’d love to hear your comments! Email me at theguiltlesslife@gmail.com or leave a comment below!

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  1. [...] love reading book reviews and I want to do more of them on my blog (I’ve reviewed One Day by David Nicholls in the past and searches for One Day still account for a lot of my search engine traffic!). I [...]