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One Day | Review

By Ella Haig

Rating: 4.5/5

Image by Leo_Woodall on Wikimedia Commons

If you haven’t already watched the new highly-acclaimed Netflix series One Day directed by Molly Manners, you’re in for a heart-wrenching ride.

Based on the 2009 novel One Day by David Nicholls, the story follows the 20-year relationship between Edinburgh University graduates Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall), which eventually blossoms into romance (although their love for each other is transparent from the very beginning).

I began watching the show with no prior expectations, as I hadn’t seen the original 2011 movie adaptation starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess—although I had been warned to brace myself for an emotional watch. 

The series delves into the significance of life, how precious it is, and how suddenly it can be taken from us.

Dexter and Emma first meet on the night of their graduation—15th July 1988—and the show follows their story on the same day for the next 20 years, exploring the development (or the regression) of their connection. They oscillate between a platonic and romantic relationship, experiencing the turbulence of distance, grief, addiction, failure, and success.

A quote from the series that struck a nostalgic chord was when Emma said, “It’s one of the great cosmic mysteries, how it is that someone can go from being a total stranger to being the most important person in your life.” Had Emma and Dex never met, the outcome of the following 20 years of their lives could have been so different. They would have been spared so much heartbreak, but simultaneously, the value of the love they share would have been unknown to them. There is beauty and devastation in the fact that they became each other’s home and that each path they wandered down led back to one another.

Viewers of the show have fallen in love with Dexter and Emma for their assets as well as their flaws. They are often unlikeable characters and their mistakes are numerous, but they are also just humans navigating through this difficult journey we call life.

The rawness with which Ambika and Leo portray their characters’ suppressed feelings is achieved with so much consideration, and with real empathy for the complexity of human beings.

One of the most gut-wrenching aspects of the story is the painful reality of grief and heartbreak. While the show by no means alleviates the weight that comes with these experiences, it highlights the fact that it is also a privilege to live and to love. I felt inspired by the quote “Imagine one selected day struck out of your life, and think how different its course would have been.” The concept of what-could-have-been is deeply thought-provoking, but will also drive us to madness if we think about it for too long.

Overall, I thought that Ambika and Leo’s performances were beautiful, and truly allowed viewers to relate to the characters in various ways. On top of that, the soundtrack throughout the fourteen episodes was fantastic and reflected the year that each scene was set within. Comparisons have unavoidably been drawn with the 2011 movie adaptation, but the series allows more in-depth character developments, which is fascinating to watch and allows for a greater attachment to Dexter and Emma. I highly recommend watching it. I also recommend stopping the show before the last episode if you want to save your tears!


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