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One Day Review – A memorable, binge-worthy rom-com about love, loss and longing

By Binged Bureau - Feb 11, 2024 @ 10:02 pm
7 / 10
BOTTOM LINE: A memorable, binge-worthy rom-com about love, loss and longing
Rating
7 / 10
Skin N Swear
Multiple love making sequences involving skin show
Comedy, Drama, Romance

What Is the Story About?

On the final day of their graduation, a nerdy, ambitious Emma gathers the courage to strike up a conversation with her college heartthrob Dexter. A night that’s supposed to be nothing more than a one-time fling alters the course of their lives forever. Is there a happy ending in store?

Performances?

The challenge for show creators is to get the viewer to appreciate Dexter’s vulnerabilities beyond his good looks and Leo Woodall does it masterfully, exercising restraint while playing a nuanced, messy part with gravitas. Emma Morley’s Indian origins provide a new texture to the tale and Ambika Mod is in top form as the North Britisher with an unusual sense of humour.

Eleanor Tomlinson is aptly cast as the elitist Sylvie, also a hasty decision-maker with relationships while Amber Grappy (as Tilly) has a sparkling screen presence. Essie Davis and Tim McInnerny make for an elegant on-screen couple as Dexter’s supportive parents. Jonny Weldon, Brendan Quinn and Adam Loxley make their presence felt while they last.

Analysis

One Day enjoys the distinction of being a rare contemporary novel to have been adapted across two storytelling formats in less than 15 years. While many believed that the film version in 2011, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, didn’t do justice to its source material, Netflix’s episodic adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel is a renewed attempt to set the record straight.

The show reinstates the significance of zesty storytelling in springing life into a done-to-death rom-com premise around two college sweethearts. Documenting the changing equation of a handsome hunk and a feisty girl over decades, the eye-candy tale journeys through Europe to offer a riveting blend of good costumes, fancy parties, peppy music and wild breakups.

The novel’s intriguing narrative structure – where you take stock of the protagonist’s lives on the same day (July 15 – St. Swithin’s Day) from 1988 to 2003 – naturally lends itself to a series adaptation and helps you absorb the timeline transitions better. The plot points are ideally tailored for the audio-visual medium, with the cinema-friendly characters and conflicts ensuring relatability.

In their very first fling, Emma and Dexter do everything but lovemaking and it’s the ‘unconventional talk’ in their first encounter that lays an interesting foundation for their not-so-rosy relationship. A self-made Emma, goes from being a waitress to a playwright to a teacher and an author, while Dexter’s life is on a downward spiral with a jerky television stint and his mom’s ailing health.

It’s rather obvious that the protagonists are destined to be together, though they claim to be best friends and keep finding newer excuses to stay out of touch. They make costly mistakes in their lives, owing to ego clashes, commitment issues, and pointless banter. All of the drama makes for juicy viewing because of the breezy, intimate storytelling and the undeniable aesthetic appeal.

Dexter, a ‘casanova’ of a protagonist, is certainly a problematic man-child but One Day treats him with empathy. He makes the most of his good looks in his early 20s, is aimless, and lacks ambition because there’s no compulsion to carve his identity. His parents have already done that for him. The mother-son conversations early on, drive this point well, hinting at what’s in store for Dexter.

The brief, crisp episodes showcase the evolution of the characters from university students to middle-aged personalities organically. While dealing with Emma and Dexter’s careers, the exploration is not dense, but adequate to inform the viewer about what they’re upto. The focus is largely on the distractions that come in the way of their togetherness.

Just when you expect a happy, cosy ending that’ll leave you with a wide grin, a tragedy denies the couple a ticket to their dream future. One Day uses this juncture to emphasise the need to rise above loss and find hope in life. The characters get a well-deserved closure by the end of the show whose periodic backdrop, with the usual props, makes this journey worthier for the viewer.

The show is ultimately a memorable, seamless culmination of the nava rasas.

Music and Other Departments?

Anne Nikitin, Jessica Jones and Tim Morrish sustain the easily digestible, palatable tone of the show with their colourful music score, capturing the change of eras effectively. The cinematographers – Nick Cooke, Ollie Downey, Álvaro Gutiérrez and Jonas Mortensen – make the most of the changing contours of the story, adding enough glitz and rootedness to the visual ambience. At 14 episodes spanning 7 hours, One Day wears out its welcome in the later segments. Yet, it surprisingly keeps you engaged despite the predictability, delaying the inevitable.

Highlights?

Intriguing narrative structure

Leo Woodall, Ambika Mod’s performances

Breezy yet poignant storytelling

Drawbacks?

Doesn’t subvert stereotypes despite its appeal

The viewer ‘unfriendly’ runtime

Did I Enjoy It?

Yes, but with reservations

Will You Recommend It?

Would I recommend it? Hell, yeah

One Day Series Review by Binged Bureau

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