Adapted from David Nicholls‘ heralded novel, director Lone Scherfig’s drama One Day aims to lure women in with a crush-worthy leading man Jim Sturgess, the cute but non-threatening romantic hero of Across the Universe, and a modern chick flick mega-star Anne Hathaway. Couple the casting with the sentimental trailer, passion-filled promotional poster and a PG-13 rating, and it’s clear that Scherfig and the film’s producers are gunning for a female audience that includes a large contingent of young and impressionable girls. This makes the film’s message of a woman’s worth all the more infuriating. To be succinct, through this story of frequently near-miss lovers, Scherfig seems to declare a woman’s purpose in life is to better the man she loves after sufficiently making herself worthy of his notice. It’s a demoralizing message that curiously devalues both men and women. And so I don’t come here to review One Day; I come here to eviscerate it.
I think this review hits quite a few of the major issues with this film. Yet again, I’m glad I saw this film for free. It certainly has a fucked up understanding of gender roles and is very stereotypical in its portrayal of the relationship roles. And, of course, when I say “fucked up” and “stereotypical,” what I mean is that, to me, this film isn’t any worse than the lot of romantic comedies, which I find to be frequently some of the worst perpetrators of gender policing.
This article also reminded me of what I found most fascinating about the film, which is Dexter (Jim Sturgess) is constantly confronted with his privilege and he never sees it. Never, ever, ever. This is really no reason for Emma (Anne Hathaway) to stay friends with this guy for 20 some years. He’s an asshole! Everyone always tells them this! He never changes! And, yet, we’re supposed to feel for this awful guy.
It’s really interesting. At certain points, I felt like this film was going to be about the white male lead having to confront the fact that he’s been screwing around his whole life to the top because A.) he’s a white male, B.) He comes from wealth, and C.) He’s educated, and he takes everything for granted. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his parents and treats them like shit. The opening scene of the film is about him meeting Emma and treating her like shit. For twenty years, they get together on the same day every year and he treats her like shit. He treats himself like shit.
Meanwhile, Emma is white, well educated, and certainly doesn’t come from poverty, but she has to struggle. She struggles all her life. It appears that she sticks with Dexter merely because she wants to believe that someone she went to college with can be successful and famous, and therefore she can follow her dreams like he has. She has to take shit jobs, she marries a horrible guy, she changes paths. She has to fight three times as hard as Dexter to be successful when it is quite possible that they come from the same background.
But, this isn’t about Dexter’s privilege, because he never confronts it. The two most important females in the film die, (Largely to motivate the audience to continue to feel bad for our male lead who really hasn’t done anything to deserve our pity, besides being gorgeous. He’s a beautiful specimen, it’s true!) and we’re supposed to feel kind of happy about Dexter learning something? What does he learn? I don’t see it. We should be happy for this couple? I didn’t.
On a smaller note, this film identifies Anne Hathaway’s character as a feminist pretty early on. I’ve got to say that, from my experience, this film has no idea what a feminist is. Again, a stereotype of hollywood films, a “feminist” is a woman who’s prudish, a virgin, and needs a man to liven her up. Women aren’t boring, hollywood. Quit telling them they need men. Quit telling women that they aren’t whole on their own (Of course, Dexter, too, isn’t whole on his own. The whole notion of people “completing” one another in films, while emotional and heartwarming at times, is kind of a fucked up concept, because it’s part of the system that tells us we shouldn’t love ourselves, I think.)
On an even smaller note, part of the reason I couldn’t enjoy this film is that it’s made clear that these two see each other more than once a year. So, then…what’s so exciting about the audience only seeing them once a year? I just don’t get it.
“Whether or not “The Tree of Life” will mean as much to someone who did not grow up as a male in a postwar American Christian household is, I suppose, open for debate. But I can’t imagine a more vivid evocation.”—
From Light Years by Kent Jones (Film Comment, July/August 2011)
Let’s talk about this more! This article, to me, largely read as a defense of Tree of Life. I find it fascinating to see all these defensive articles. I don’t see a whole lot of folks talking about the flaws in this film. Jones also argues that this film isn’t a Christian film. I disagree. But, you already know my thoughts.
Philosophers talking Philosophy. It’s 88 minutes, and it feels a little slow. That being said, I did find it a super interesting watch, and with it being Philosophy, a little bit too engaging for me to watch segment after segment. I always just wanted to try watching a segment every day and keep the thoughts in my head for a while.
I went to see 30 Minutes or Less last night with a friend last night. We both wanted to like it, for one being that it was shot in Grand Rapids and my friend was not only on the set for some scenes, but her friend lives in the apartment that the main characters live in in the film.
We didn’t pay for it and I’m glad that we didn’t. We were both kind of bummed about the film, but sobering up this morning, I realized I was angry at this film. So, here’s a review that doesn’t quite express how much I was disappointed and angry at this film (I think you can tell that I got more angry as I continued to write about this flick). There’ll be more to come.
“…It might also be maintained that some of the gendered aspects of the French language itself militate against certain feminist precepts.”
“Many commentators have persuasively argued that François Truffaut diminished the feminism of Henri-Pierre Roché’s novel Jules and Jim by combining most of its women characters into a single figure and ascribing many characteristics to that figure that were felt to be “eternally feminine.””
“People of colour are just not viewed as very “wholesome” in the eyes of the white American majority. You have to be wholesome to be girlish and vulnerable. I watched “Super 8” recently at the cinema and it struck me as I was watching this very coming of age story that people of colour are just not included in this all American apple pie narrative. Wholesome-ness is definitely a white American concept that extends to boys as well. It’s this sort of ‘aw shucks’, baseball cards in the spokes of your bike, leave it to beaver aesthetic.”—Who Is the Black Zooey Deschanel? | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture (via aeraspais)
“Deren, Clarke, and Wieland were aware of their problematic position among filmmakers and artists. Clark announced to an interviewer in 1967, “I have to deal with myself as a woman, then as a director.” In the same year, Wieland said, “I looked at a lot of men’s art…but I thought: where is my tradition, where is my life?…I still had to look into the lives of women who had made independent statements.” Clarke also remembered Deren’s words: “We [women] get everything we want by raising hell except what we want most.”—From the chapter “The Woman Filmmaker in the New York Avant-garde” in Lauren Rabinovitz’s Points of Resistance: Women, Power, & Politics in the New York Avant-garde Cinema, 1943-71