Why the reaction to One Day the movie was shockingly different to the TV series.

After months of anticipation, Netflix has released the rom-com One Day, but this isn't just any regular offering from the streaming platform

One Day is steeped in lore because of the story's loyal fandom of passionate followers around the world. 

The series is adapted from the 2009 David Nicholls book of the same name with the Netflix version being told over 14 episodes. The narrative follows Edinburgh University students, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, after they meet on 15th July 1988 on the night of their graduation.

The rest of the story takes place on that same day for the next two decades, as Emma and Dexter's lives change, they experience highs, lows and heartbreak, and the twosome come together and grow apart. 

In the series, Dexter and Emma are played by The White Lotus' Leo Woodall and This Is Going to Hurt's Ambika Mod respectively. 

Watch the One Day trailer. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix.

One Day didn't begin as an instant hit in the literary world, instead after its 2009 release, the book grew a steady following by word-of-mouth before becoming one of the best-selling books of all time


The novel spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list in the US and sold millions of copies. 

Along with being a phenomenon, the book is deeply beloved by fans, with countless blogs, Tumblrs and subreddits dedicated to the novel, its characters and the way the story has resonated with readers – especially its British fans. 

The Netflix series isn't the first on-screen adaption with the story brought to cinemas in 2011 and starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

Even before the film was released, fans of the book were already, well... not thrilled about it. 

The decision to cast Hathaway in the leading role of Emma was panned from the beginning. The Brooklyn-born actor's good looks and Hollywood smile seemed like a mismatch with the working-class Yorkshire character she was portraying. 

"Anne Hathaway as Emma? Really? Did anyone actually read the descriptions of the character? Anne Hathaway is not it. Horrible choice," one reader commented ahead of the film's release. 

The Devil Wear Prada actor quickly discovered how important the role was to the novel's legion of followers.

"I didn't realise how deeply loved the book was when I signed on to play Emma and I sort of wish I didn't know," Hathaway admitted to the BBC. 

"The weight of expectation got even larger, and I quickly realised I was going to disappoint a lot of people."


Then the movie was released and immediately, reviewers raised issues with Hathaway's attempt at a Leeds accent which some said veered into a mashup of Brooklyn, Yorkshire, and the Cotswolds affectations. 

Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in the movie version. Image: Universal Pictures. 

"I was so distracted, wondering what version of the mother tongue she was going to attempt next – veering from wartime-BBC to proper ‘Eeee by gum’ clangers," reviewer Caroline Frost wrote for the Huffington Post.


"I’m not of the no-American-can-play-a-Brit school of casting (Renée Zellweger will forever be my Bridget Jones), but Anne Hathaway’s rangy American gameness, big smile and shining good health are the physical and psychological opposite of what makes Emma more than just an awkward duckling who takes a very long time to become a swan," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum.

Aside from judgments passed over Hathaway's performance – which spoke as much to the 'Hathahate' movement that plagued the actor in the 2010s as it did to any genuine criticism – the film was a commercial and critical flop.

The Guardian referred to the movie as "a slushy, mawkish and weirdly humourless romance." wrote the film was a "romantic muddle that doesn't do the much-loved book justice." 

Given how the first adaption of One Day fared, there was added pressure for the Netflix version to honour the novel cherished the world over. 

So how does the Netflix series stack up? 

I've caught the first few episodes and it's already an enthralling story of enduring love and friendship.

Unlike the movie which was written by Nicholls, for the series the author serves as an executive producer with writers Nicole Taylor, Anna Jordan, Vinay Patel, and Bijan Sheibani adapting the novel into a screenplay.


Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in One Day. Image: Netflix.

Given the narrative gets the space to breathe across 14 episodes, there's more room to add nuance and delve deeper not just into the main characters but the supporting cast too. 

For instance, Emma's boyfriend Ian, played by Jonny Weldon, is given more of a thoughtful portrayal, a stark departure from the cartoonish loser the film version depicted. 


The structure of the series in short installments compliments the novel in a way a feature-length film can't replicate. Series star Weldon spoke about how the series differs from the film. 

"The nature of One Day is naturally very episodic," the actor told HELLO!.

"Every chapter and episode are very compatible. So in that sense, it's going to be reflective of reading the book in the sense that every year passes as in the chapter, every year passes with an episode as well, which is different to the movie." 

And of course, it helps that Emma is played by English actor Ambika Mod, who nails the Leeds accent and portrays the character with vulnerability, humour and determination.

While the chemistry between Mod and Leo Woodall is fairly tepid at the beginning, I trust that this will only grow as the characters spend decades in each other's lives.

Given the sky-high expectations, I'm not convinced the series will do the novel justice but one thing is for sure: the book's fans will be watching closely. 

One Day is now streaming on Netflix. 

Feature image: Netflix/Focus Features.

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