The Leeds Vue timetabling screwed up my plans & so I saw this, a film I was pretty ambivalent about watching at all. As the opening shot played out, however, and time spools back to 1988 Edinburgh – and not just Edinburgh, one of my favourite places, but bits of Edinburgh I know pretty well – I was inclined to like it.
This is a romance between Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway), two people who almost get together after their graduation and whose lives are always out of synch, preventing them from becoming more than friends for many years. The ‘trick’ of the film is that we see their lives, from 1988 to 2011, only in snapshots of the anniversary day of that first encounter.
At first Dex is successful, the confidence of his wealthy background leading to a spiralling arrogance, while Emma’s attempts to become a writer lead her to cynicism and defeatism. Later, both their situations change – several times.
You know that they’re going to get together but, despite some standard romcom tropes and some very funny scenes, this is not your standard romcom, ending with the happy realisation that they’re ‘meant’ to be together. Nor is it simply a melodrama, though there are melodramatic elements; there is much more going on here.
Much has been made of Hathaway’s ‘wandering’ Yorkshire accent but it’s not a big problem; it appears and disappears but it doesn’t globe-trot and, otherwise, it’s a good performance, as is Sturgess’. He has, perhaps, the tougher job, portraying a man acting like a shit (the word ‘odious’ occurred to me before he is so described in the film) while keeping the core of humanity in him alive.
I’ve not read the book on which this was based so I don’t have an internal image of what it should be like at which to be outraged. After this thoroughly satisfying film version, I will read the book.