One Day DVD review

Based on the hit novel of the same name written by David Nicholls, how does this film adaptation compare?

The movie follows the path of two friends, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) after their graduation party as they try to make sense of life, career and love. Almost becomng lovers but not quite on the 15th July 1989, the audience follow their story on the 15th July of each ensuing year.

The best thing about this is the acting: Anne Hathway drea a lot of criticism about her “Northern” accent, but whilst it is undeniably shaky at times, it doesn’t detract from the performance she gives. She portrays Emma well – the witty, clever, at times vulnerable traits are all encapsulated in her acting. Jim Sturgess shines in this film though, amanging to portray Dexter at all stages of his journey well, still retaining likeability and charm, more appealing in the film than the book. The closing stages of the film are particulary good, and I felt like Sturgess’ performance really added to this. The two stars also share good chemistry between each other to pull this film off.

I read the book before watching the film, and it feels like this has missed out some key points and made changes that mean that it fails to embellish the story and characters fruther. Given the time constraints of the film, I understand that somse bits have to cut out, but Dexter’s spiral into destruction as his TV career rises and then falls wasn’t explored deeply enough, and you don’t get a sense of Emma’s struggle to find herself as that parts before she gets to that stage are missed out. The main characters are transformed into more perfect people, whereas in the book they were more flawed and real.

I also felt that the story goes too quickly and it isn’t clear to follow at times, for example, when Dexter visits his ill mother, he is under the influence of drugs, but this isn’t really made clear. In fact, apart from sweating, Dexter seems to continue to act normal, and it glosses over Dexter’s dark times. I think that whilst the idea of the book following one day a year works well in the book, it affects the story in the film. It feels choppy and if I didn’t read the book before, I don’t know if I would have understood the film as well. As it is a movie, you don’t get the opportunity to reveal a character’s inner thoughts or explore their lives more deeply, which helps the story telling in the book. Dexter and Emma’s relationship in the film seems to be one of constant love. This isn’t a negative, but in the story, it is more complex. At Tilly’s wedding in the movie, the audience is left with the impression that he still loves Emma, even though he is about to marry Slyive. In the book, he truly does love Sylvie at the beginning. When his wife leaves him in the movie, you don’t feel Dexter’s sadness or anger like you do in the book.

I like the general story idea and the acting is fantastic. Overall, I enjoyed the film, although I think it could have been done better. I do prefer the book, but this is a solid adaptation. 3.5 stars (a 0.5 extra for the acting).

It Started With A Kiss – Miranda Dickinson

Rejected after confessing her love for her best friend Charlie, Romily is taken aback when a handsome stranger surprises her with a kiss, only to disappear afterwards. Romily sets out to find this stranger, setting up a blog and going to great lengths to find him again, aiming to find him in a year’s time. Meanwhile, Charlie is having second thoughts about his feelings for Romily….
 
Dickinson creates a great friendship between Romily and the other members of her band, The Pinstripes, which is enjoyable to read, as is the relationship between Romily and her aunt and uncle. The characterisation and the initial plot idea is great. The way in which the author incorporates blog and email entries is unusual but adds to the realistic tale. Sometimes, the story lags and the narrative is less interesting in places, but the ending makes the journey worthwhile. Dickinson leads the reader into many a twist and turn in Romily’s quest to find the stranger, or true love. I certainly didn’t expect the ending that was given and was surprised, in a good way!
 
What is also interesting is how Dickinson has created Book Extras (similar to DVD extras).
 
Overall, the story was a good read, although it does feel slow in places. I feel like some of the story could have been edited better as I felt myself losing interest at times and skipping certain parts. The quest to find the stranger was gripping and I wanted to see how the stranger would re-emerge in the story. The story explores humour, sadness and love in a subtle manner and the ending is well written. 3 stars

Let’s Meet on Platform 8 – Carole Matthews

This is Matthews’ first book – it’s not one of her best but she manages to craft a good tale exploring the beginnings of an affair and the repercussions it has for everyone involved. There are no unlikeable characters at all, which is surprising in a story – usually there is some sort of bad character, but whilst these characters are flawed, as a reader you don’t really hate anyone. There are times however, when you dislike Teri and Jamie’s actions as they are immoral due to the situation.
The meeting at the train station is quite romantic and sets the beginning of what is a beautiful relationship between the two main characters. Yet nothing is easy in romance, and there are complications – in the form of a wife and two kids. Normally with these types of stories you expect an happy ending, and as you read further towards the end, you can’t imagine how Teri and Jamie will end up together, and they don’t. In the end, Jamie moves away with his family. The ending is quite bittersweet as they part for the last time, and it makes you wonder if the story were to continue what would happen to the characters. Would Jamie being in love with another woman cause him to get depressed, or stop his marriage from ever being a happy one? Teri falls pregnant at the end – would she tell Jamie, and if Jamie’s family ever found out what would happen. The story seems to end at a unusual point, and it doesn’t feel resolved. Or perhaps that was Matthew’s idea – to end it in a way that would still ask so many questions, exploring how an affair doesn’t always end so clear-cut. 3 stars

The Nearly-Weds by Jane Costello

Originally posted 03/03/2012

Having read My Single Friend and having heard good reviews about this book, I dceided to give The Nearly-Weds a try. It focuses on Zoe, who was recently jilted at the altar by her fiance Jason. To get over him, she leaves England to start a new life and a new job in Boston, little does she know that her romantic troubles aren’t going to get any easier, especially when she meets her new boss, the womaniser widow, Ryan.
Costello presents an average tale but it feels lie i doesn’t all come together to produce a fantastic novel. Zoe is a likeable character but for me, the way she pined for Jason when she was with Ryan, and for Ryan when she was with Jason was a little off-putting, as were her constant thoughts about Ryan (and his body). Ryan is an unsympathetic character and the way he is presented means that there are no redeeming features or anything which qualifies his status as the romantic hero of the piece, something I felt right up to the end of reading the book. Some of the events are bizarre. Zoe questions why her mother forgave Jason so readily, and this is something that the reader questions too – the explanation that is given isn’t a satisfactory one. The later stage of the story, when Zoe returns to the UK is a little rushed with some much happening, in deep contrast with the rest of the story, which was a little slow. It’s not an entirely awful book, but My Single Friend was a well written read that this feels like a disappointing effort from Costello. 2 stars

Recipe for Disaster – Miriam Morrison

Morrison whips up a stroy of the culinary world which is full of fierce rivalry, love, life issues, violence and the odd raspberry souffle. It primarily focuses on Kate, an undercover journalist who aims to expose the seedy and corrupt world of restaurants yet she finds Cuisine, the new restaurant at which she becomes a waitress at, to be completely different to her previous expectations. The owner and the head chef, Jake Goldman, prdies himself on his great standards and passion for delivering fantastic food rather than making mony. A tough but caring boss, he goes from crisis to crisis, mainly due to the work of culinary college rival, Harry Hunter, who, jealous at the praise lavished on Jake, soon opens a rival restaurant nearby. Kate findself embroiled in this strange new world and finds herself in too deep, especially as she makes great friends with the staff of Cuisine, and becomes more that friends with Jake. Can Jake succeed with his new restaurant? Will Kate manage to carry through with her lie without getting caught out? Will Harry manage to achieve his goal of destroying Jake?
The plot is hardly original and it feels quite soapy, but Morrison offers a story of pure escapism which is enjoyable to read. I revelled in the stock villain, Harry’s, attempts to derail Jake’s path to success. He becomes a character who you love to hate. One thing which was negative was the description of Harry and Georgia’s affair – it was a bit too explicit and bizarrely written, and it didn’t really make sense how Harry fell for Georgia. It was refreshing, however, not to see Harry suddenly become a good guy at the end of the book and redeem himself, which is quite common in other books.
The blossoming relationship between Kate and Jake was superbly written, and the stories of the supporting characters are also fascinating – in particular, Tess is a great character. In fact, all of Morrison’s characters are built up well that you love to follow the journeys that they take within the story. Morrison has cooked up a light delicious tale that will whet anyone’s appetite for a good romantic story. 4 stars.

I Heart New York – Lindsay Kelk

Angela Clark’s perfect world is thrown into chaos when she discovers her boyfriend Mark is a man misbehaving badly at her best friend’s wedding. Humiliated, Angela decides to take a drastic course of action and flies to New York, where the city, new friends and a beautiful Marc Jacobs bag make New York seem a more attractive city compared to London. Life gets even better when she gets a job as a blogger for a top magazine and meets two fantastic men who are interested in her, but is New York everything that she wants?
Similar to A Single Girl’s To-Do List in that it follows the main character who has recently become single and tries to reinvent herself to become a better person, the change that Angela makes also occurs over such a short space of time. Like Rachel, Angela attracts many handsome men in her new life change. Life seems to fall in place so easily that it may seem strange, but this is a minor quibble. Kelk crafts a great story in I Heart New York, although it was slightly uncomfortable for Angela to be dating two men at the same time. Nevertheless, it is well written, and the moments between Angela and Alex, for example, the Empire State Building part, were really touching to read. The vivid description of New York and American culture really add to the tale. Kelk put a lot of effort into researching New York, and it shows when you read the book. The main characters are extremely likeable, and I cannot wait to see how they and their stories develop over the rest of the series. 4 stars

Take A Chance on Me – Jill Mansell

Take A Chance on Me follows the lives of two sisters, Abbie and Cleo, as they attempt to make sense of life and love. Abbie is happily married to Tom, her teenage sweetheart, but an unexpected blast from the past threatens their once-solid-and-stable relationship. Cleo thinks she has met the man of her dreams in Will, but little does she know that he is also hiding a deep secret, one which when exposed, has a massive effect on Cleo and her friends. Throw into the mix Cleo’s tormentor at school, Johnny, who returns to the village and you have one long story full of surprise, shocks, love, sadness, betrayal and deer.
Mansell’s style of writing is clever and sharp, and she throws into it plenty of twists along the way, which although at times predictable, are nevertheless interesting to read. The way in which the love stories of Abbie, Cleo and Ash contrast with each other yet they interweave at the same time is done really well, and the book ends on a great conclusion.
Criticisms? Maybe a few. I though that the romance between Will and Cleo was all too short. I would’ve like to have seen that developed a bit more so one gets a greater understanding of why Cleo fell for Will and that his bombshell would have had more of an impact. Also, whilst I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Johnny and Cleo, it mentions at the start of the book that he made her teenage life a misery, which doesn’t really come through in the book. Johnny is Cleo’s nemesis but we only get fleeting references as to why this is. Plus, despite the hatred at the beginning of the story, Cleo and Johnny do get on really well and fall for each other rather quickly, making this “hatred” seem insignificant. However, the touching moments they shared together was a large positive of the book.
Take A Chance On Me is a fantastic read, and the relationships between the characters is the best part. Mansell puts great effort into laying down the stories of the characters and establishing their shared history that the reader can’t help but connect with them emotionally. It is a lengthy tale but all the more satisfying as you read through it and worth it when you reach the end. For the most part, Mansell has delivered a brilliant, cohesive, witty story about love at different stages and varying situations. 3.5 stars
Originally posted 12/03/2012