The generally crummy reviews of One Day, the British rom-not-so-com adapted from the novel, are full of the same eye rolls. First there’s the plot gimmick of checking in on Emma and Dexter, the main characters with ridiculously British names, on the same day every year; then there’s Hathaway’s polarizing accent; and lastly, there’s the ending. Spoiler alert: Something happens at the end of this movie! It is both too important for critics to ignore — as A.O. Scott says, the ending “is likely to have a decisive effect on your opinion of the movie” — and too important to spoil, so they must address, without really addressing it. Take a look at how well — pretty damn well! — the critics walked the spoiler-free line.
[Please note that all of the following quotes, except the last one, are not very spoiler-y. But if you read them all at once, it is possible you will develop a hunch about what goes down at the end of this film. If you would like to remain not just spoiler-, but also hunch-free, please read no further.]
“Toward the end, the action takes a left turn into cheap and nasty sensation — a panicked awakening, perhaps, to the need for plot, or Nicholls’ need to play God with his characters and his audience.” [NPR]
“Anyone who has read the book will be prepared for the radical turn One Day takes; those who haven’t may want to brace themselves. But even before One Day whops viewers over the head with its third-act stunner, it’s suffused with the theme of loss … ” [WP]
“And the ending will come as a shock to anyone who hasn’t read the novel (be forewarned that this is not your standard rom-com, and that the significance of One Day’s one day, when finally revealed, seeks to redefine the term ‘tearjerker’).” [NYO]
“In deference to the spoiler-sensitive, I’ll tread lightly here, but what happens near the end of ‘One Day’ is likely to have a decisive effect on your opinion of the movie. Perhaps you will have seen this climax coming all along, and maybe you will find it splendidly moving. On the other hand, you might cringe to see the film’s wit and delicacy ruined by maudlin excess and wish you could remix the tape to get rid of that song you always hated.” [NYT]
“It also featured a surprise ending (no spoilers, promise) that, while certainly a master manipulation, gave the book ballast. Here, the same writer takes that out-of-nowhere ending and heavily, clumsily foreshadows it. Did he do it because moviegoers are trained to expect certain sorts of endings to follow from certain kinds of beginnings?” [Time]
“Perhaps she knows she can’t do anything about the Big Twist that sinks the movie like a stone in the final act and that she films without care or finesse. Some movies manipulate you. This one mugs you.” [Boston Globe]
“Throwaway moments and odd little gags — usually, on the July 15s when nothing very much happens — often feel life-size and poignant. The problem is that the film’s Big Scenes, especially the egregiously bathetic turns toward the end, often do not.” [Vulture]
This one is actually pretty spoiler-y.
“This isn’t a spoiler as I’m not revealing anything. I just need to get something straight. If you’re riding a bicycle through a city in a cautious and responsible way (i.e., signalling turns with your arm and all that) and you’re riding down a kind of walk-street alley that leads to a main thoroughfare with heavy traffic, wouldn’t it be a natural thing to stop at the end of the alley and check for oncoming vehicles before emerging from the alley? It would be kind of stupid to just ignore common sense, right?” [Hollywood Elsewhere]