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“One Day” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

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“God, I love it when you guys fight. Ooh, trouble in paradise… I do! I mean, it just means you have a normal ordinary relationship.” The best friend Tilly (a delightful Amber Grappy) says these lines in the penultimate episode of Netflix’s “One Day.” She’s speaking to our heroine Emma Morley, played winningly by Ambika Mod. The sentiment reverberates because Emma and her love interest Dexter Mayhew (a perfectly cast Leo Woodall) do not have a normal relationship. They have a storybook type of love, the thing of legend and weepy romances.

Based on the book by David Nicholls, Netflix’s serialized version of this hit follows our star-crossed lovers as they meet, collide, repel, and repeat through the years on the single day of July 15. It starts as they graduate college and ends, well, comparisons to “The Notebook” are apt.

But before they get together, Emma and Dex spend a lot of time growing up, becoming best friends who inspire each other to be better, as their mutual attraction simmers underneath. Here, the series format does an excellent job of making both our leads lived-in people, something the 2011 film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess didn’t quite succeed in doing. Woodall’s “Sexy Dexy” is genuinely charming as the golden boy whose life is indeed too easy until it isn’t. It’s clear why some (including Emma) are so drawn to him while others are repelled.

Meanwhile, casting a woman of color as Emma further underlines the differences in the two’s social stations. She may graduate with the grades, but tough economic times are ahead for the aspiring writer looking for her voice. Mod inhabits her various transformations and compromises, lighting up when Dexter’s in the frame but not letting him define her either (until, perhaps, the very end).

Starting in 1988 and continuing for decades, “One Day” resists some of the pitfalls of pieces set in its period with costumes that feel true to the era but not distracting. The production also does a good job of aging its characters gently, taking them past their early twenties with subtle changes in their faces, styles, and mannerisms.

But where it really excels is telling this intense love story of improbable equals. Emma and Dexter are of different races, genders, social classes, and temperaments. But they find a way to meet each other on equal footing, despite society valuing one more than the other depending on the season. And the story construction mirrors that for most of the first 13 episodes, giving their interiority, their sexual adventures, and their relationships outside of each other, all equal weight. The result is a compelling portrayal of two people’s rocky pathway as they go from strangers to best friends to partners.

Fated as they are to get together, the episodic structure works well in plot development too, each installment a sort of sonnet to their phase of life. Yes, it can drag a bit in the middle when convention and personal development dictate that they must be apart. And yes, the musical cues can be overwrought, practically shouting what to feel at any given moment.

Overall, it works. They earn their eventual couplehood, having found their way to a beautiful and exceptional pairing.

Unfortunately—for lovers of love, happy endings, and dynamic female characters—that’s not where the story ends. Not in the 2009 book, the 2011 movie, or the 2024 series. This is a weeper and its tragedy feels clichéd after the characters have already been through so much. Indeed, the ending undermines so much of the charm and goodwill earned in its previous episodes, effectively turning Emma’s whole existence into a lesson in humility for Dexter. And that feels cheap and simple-minded, especially after spending so much time getting to know this pair through the years.

In the end, the lesson of “One Day” appears to be that love conquers all, except casual misogyny.

Whole series screened for review. On Netflix now.

One Day movie poster

One Day (2024)

Cast

Leo Woodallas Dexter

Ambika Modas Emma

Amber Grappyas Tilly

Brendan Quinnas Callum

Jonny Weldonas Ian

Essie Davisas Alison

Creator

  • Nicole Taylor

“One Day” Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download Movie Review, Live Streaming & Download

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