To be fair, I knew it was coming. Having already read David Nicholls’ charming 2009 international best-seller One Day, about the ups and downs of friends Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew’s relationship over the span of 20 years, I knew the movie was also going to end on a major — if not pretty shocking — downer. For those of you who have not read the novel or seen the adaptation starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess (and it seems like that’s plenty of you), beware of MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
It would be an understatement to say I was disappointed with the ending of One Day. After nearly two decades of putting up with Dexter’s flip-flopping feelings (all while she was stuck in a lukewarm relationship with Ian), Emma finally got him to settle down, only to find that she couldn’t have a child with him (mind you, he already got to experience that joy with his first wife Sylvie) and then… she dies?! City of Angels-style, no less: Emma was hit by a vehicle while riding her bike. To me, the ending seemed grossly unfair to Emma (hadn’t she suffered enough?) and a bit of a cop-out, really. Why couldn’t this story about the complexities of friendship and love avoid becoming a weepy melodrama? Granted, life isn’t always that nice and fair to us. Nicholls’ book felt light, smart, and sweet throughout — but when Emma died, it suddenly felt sad and schlocky.
So when I first found out One Day was being made into a movie, I began to hope the film’s writers would commit the ultimate Hollywood sin and change the ending. (Gasp!) I know, it sounds crazy, but, loving Nicholls’ characters, I found myself wishing Emma and Dexter would find their happily ever after on the big screen. Hollywood could have made it happen, right?! Of course, had the film’s writers altered it, it likely would have caused as much ire as the My Sister’s Keeper adaptation, which delivered a shiny, happy ending that was dramatically different than the final pages of Jodi Picoult’s beloved book. In a way, adapting One Day was something of a lose-lose situation from the get-go. If writers had changed the ending, they’d delight some fans of the book (myself included), but others would leave the theaters seriously miffed. (Many in my screening, however, seemed upset with the original ending — when Emma was hit, gasps echoing through the theater were louder than the film itself.)
I’m curious to know what you thought of the ending though, PopWatchers. Had you already read the book and hoped they would change it, or were you relieved they kept it as is? If you hadn’t read One Day, were you genuinely shocked by the ending? Did it bother you or do you think it will rank high among fellow doomed love story classics like Titanic and The Notebook? Share your opinion in the comments section below.