Review in a Hurry: Two college grads (Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess) begin a friendship that spans 20 years before it blossoms into something more. Despite the familiar When Harry Met Sally, friends-first, opposites-attract contrivances, this romance is intermittently loveable, thanks to a glam cast and witty script.
The Bigger Picture: Emma and Dexter couldn't be more different. So it's evident from their almost-intimate first encounter and their vow to just be buds that they're destined to fall in love. It's the oldest rom-com trick in the book—or in this case, David Nicholls' bestselling novel. But this bittersweet adaptation makes their two decades of foreplay (mostly) worth the wait.
Emma is a working-class girl with writerly aspirations, but a cynical lack of confidence. Dexter is a wealthy, cocksure cad with a taste for women and booze. Somehow Em and Dex click, at least as BFFs.
Starting on the night of their college graduation, July 15, 1988, Day checks in with Em and Dex every subsequent July 15th. Their lives are usually out of synch: While she works a crap job and suffers a passionless relationship, he's a TV star and married man. Then when Em finds love and success as an author in Paris, London-living Dex sinks his family and career. Eventually, kismet kicks in as these crazy, stupid lovers realize what we've known since scene one.
Perhaps the same-time-next-year device worked better in the book, but here it's unnecessarily gimmicky and forces the film to account for each year, instead of conflating events. Plus, the onscreen treatment of dates, though playful at first, gets precious and distracting.
Hathaway, with her doe eyes and shaky British accent, develops a warm rapport with charmer Sturgess. Their easy chemistry makes it credible that these characters would keep circling back to each other, despite the ups and downs and near-misses. And their snappy banter prevents key moments from getting soaked in sap and sentimentality.
Though far from perfection, this is still one fine Day.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Can we please have a moratorium on scenes featuring a new dad trying to quiet/entertain a crying baby? It's not endearing—it's as grating as the toddler's tantrum.