Critics really couldn't stand it: it's running at a not-so-impressive 27% on rottentomatoes.
People didn't go watch it. I'm not sure how much money it made this weekend, but I believe more people watched afternoon re-runs on the Travel Channel than saw this movie. (no hate on the Travel Channel, it's quite nice!)
But I really liked it. Really liked it. And this coming from someone who couldn't get past page 50 of the book it was based on.
One Day is the love story of Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway, yeah..her accent sucked, whatever, get over it) that spans 16 years of their adult life. After an intimate encounter (though not consummated) on the day of their college graduation on July 15th, 1988, the film tracks the progress of their relationship, only checking in on our protagonists on subsequent July 15ths, up until present day. Because of the nature of the story, the film provides an overly nostalgic edge, constantly reminding us of where they are going and where they have been, since we are seeing their entire adult lives in snippets. The filmmakers also chose carefully placed songs and cultural references to set the mood in a way that was actually not annoying, which is more than I can say for most 1990's period pieces.
The movie does make some strange choices (especially with Dexter's character), but you can read a multitude of reviews that catalog the mishaps of One Day. But at it's core, it's a story about two friends who each take alternate paths after college, but are still bonded by a misunderstood love for each other. This is not a story of constantly being at the wrong place at the wrong time, there are plenty of times the two could have gotten together and lived a "normal life." It's a story that explores the boundaries of friendships and complicated emotions, and the value of continued loyalty (for lack of a better word) over time. And the film really works on this level. The most appealing component to Emma and Dex's friendship is the fact that their love for eachother is time-tested, so when we flash back to earlier moments of their friendship, we feel as if we've gone on a journey with them.
Much of the emotion between the two actually exists in the spaces in between, which probably didn't play well with critics and audiences who were looking for on screen moments to prove their love was "special." For me, just the simple knowledge that they had remained in each other's thoughts, no matter their successes or failures, made watching their story worthwhile. Because of this, and the carefully chosen moments that were shown on screen, it created for a much deeper relationship than it might at first glance. We always get the feel that these two people, who are unalike in many ways, do share a special connection, even if we don't fully understand the reason. After all, love doesn't always (actually rarely) makes sense anyway.
Not to mention, the whole story takes place in England and France...so, for me, this enhanced the movie quite a bit as I doubt I would have liked it as much had it taken place in Topeka, Kansas and Des Moines.
And as with any movie, the highest praise I can give it is that I held in a pee for a good 45 minutes because I didn't want to miss a moment. So take that for what it's worth.