Can men and women be friends? It's an age old question that movies love to explore, always ending with the same answer: No, they cannot. They either have to fuck, fall in love, or end up hating each other. For Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess), the line between friendship and relationship is toed with the utmost of care.
Director Lone Scherfig (who is fond of adapting literature to film as evidenced by directing An Education, a far superior effort than One Day, as far as adaptations go) does her best to imbue the viewer with a sense of caring whether or not Emma and Dexter will ultimately get together, but it is difficult to genuinely give a shit because the outcome is so predictable.
David Nicholls, who wrote both the book and the screenplay, has trouble translating the story from its literary form, focusing on moments in their lives that needn't be dwelled upon and straying away from moments that should. For instance, there is not nearly enough emphasis on Dexter's stint as a TV presenter for the tacky, London-based variety show, Late Night Lock In, his dynamic with his mother, Alison (Patricia Clarkson, whose British accent is almost as bad as Anne Hathaway's), and the affair that Emma has with the headmaster of the school where she teaches (a plot point that is left out altogether in the movie).
The title of the film, One Day, of course dually refers to the idea that "one day" Emma and Dexter will be together and also to the date of the year, July 15, that they always end up meeting with one another. Beginning in 1988, Emma and Dexter sleep together without "sleeping together." Once this sexless tone is set, they decide to maintain a friendship that sees them through multiple failed relationships (Dexter's wife, played by Romola Garai, cheats on him and Emma can't seem to find anyone she is truly in love with), failed careers (Dexter is kicked off the air for being too old to resonate with his audience demographic any longer and Emma serves a far too long stint working at a Mexican restaurant before becoming a teacher), and familial woes (Dexter's mom battles cancer).
Certain years drag on far longer than others, their final one together especially. If only they had spent more time in 1993 when they were at least playing good music ("Rhythm of the Night" by Corona). Concluding with an ending that is far too similar to City of Angels, in terms of Emma's fate, One Day is a film that could have been easily suited to air on BBC3 or BBC America. So, unless you're going to see it in order to admire Jim Sturgess (and he is extremely admirable), I would stick to reading the book. The abrupt jumps in time are much more cohesive in novel form.