The longest Day...
The task of bringing a bestselling novel to the screen can be an arduous one.
Fantasy fiction about boy wizards and moody teenage vampire-lovers aside, a huge readership doesn't necessarily guarantee that audiences will flock to the multiplexes. Adult readers tend to be somewhat proprietorial about the characters and don't take too kindly to Hollywood mucking around with the pictures they've formed in their mind.
It's a tricky balancing act and one which One Day, unfortunately, fails to pull off.
In purely cinematic terms, One Day is a limp, pedestrian chronological shuffle through the lives of two characters, Emma and Dexter, who have a (sort of) one-night stand on their graduation night from Edinburgh University on St Swithin's Day 1988, vow to remain friends and we catch up with them on July 15 down the years. The romantic tension here isn't so much 'will they?/won't they?' as 'just get on with it'.
Author David Nicholls has adapted his own book and, despite being an accomplished screenwriter with Starter For Ten and several episodes of Cold Feet on his CV, here he's failed to make Emma and Dexter more than mildly interesting.
Emma comes across as a bit of a moaning Minnie rather than a feisty Yorkshire lass who takes everything life can throw at her before becoming a writer, whereas Dexter has more to him. Despite ostensibly being the more shallow of the pair as a good-looking rich kid, who forges a career on late-night yoof TV in the early '90s before spiralling downwards into drink/drugs/debauchery, he's actually very likeable and you root for him as he eventually realises that he has to grow up or remain a joke without a punchline.
Jim Sturgess brings the right amount of swagger and vulnerability to Dexter, but there's no escaping the fact that what sinks One Day from the off is the casting of Anne Hathaway as Emma. Sticking a beautiful Hollywood actress in a pair of Docs, a shapeless smock and a pair of geeky specs does not a frump make. The essential dynamic of the story -- that Dexter doesn't realise the true beauty of the woman he's known all these years -- simply doesn't wash. He might be drunk or high a lot of the time, but he's not blind.
And then there's the matter of Hathaway's accent. Oh dear. Even with some very obvious looping this is a travesty, with sentences often beginning in Scotland, making a brief visit to Yorkshire and taking a trip to the Home Counties before popping up to visit Daphne Moon in Manchester.
Fans of the book -- and I am one -- will bemoan the fact that all the subtlety and most of the humour has been rinsed from the story and instead of likeable, if flawed, characters, what we're left with are rom-dram ciphers it's very difficult to care about, wandering remorselessly through a thoroughly average movie.HHIII
TREACLE JR (Drama. Starring Aidan Gillen, Tom Fisher, Riann Steele. Directed by Jamie Thraves. Cert Club)
Aidan Gillen has been having a pretty good year movie-wise, with eye-catching turns in Wake Wood and Blitz, but here he gives arguably the performance of his career as Aidan, an eccentric Irishman living in London who befriends Tom (Tom Fisher), a man who's just arrived in the city and is living on the streets.
Aidan, a relentlessly chipper and talkative character who may not be quite the full shilling, brings Tom back to the flat he shares with his tempestuous and abusive girlfriend Linda (Riann Steel). The relationship which develops between the two men is at times reminiscent of that between Shrek and Donkey, with Tom at times visibly perplexed by Aidan's non-stop non sequiturs. Director Thraves never lets us forget that life on the streets can be dangerous and there are times when the film plunges into disturbing areas.
This is Gillen's movie without a doubt, and for Dublin music fans of a certain vintage it should prove quite a revelation as the actor is clearly channelling the mannerisms of one-time Master of the Universe/Emperor of the Eagles and founder of Temple Lane rehearsal studios Aidan Walsh to form this odd and certainly intriguing character. Treacle Jr is low-budget and low-key but a wonderfully involving and heartfelt film.HHHHI
THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Drama. Starring Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya. Directed by Pedro Almodovar. Cert 16)
Pedro Almodovar's dip into the horror genre is as bonkers as you'd expect and his adaptation of the novel Tarantula, by French author Thierry Jonquet, reunites him with Antonio Banderas for the first time in over 20 years. Banderas plays Dr Robert Ledgard, a classic 'mad doctor' of the old school who's imprisoned a beautiful woman Vera (Elena Anaya) in his isolated mansion while performing experimental cosmetic surgery on her.
Naturally, this wouldn't be an Almodovar film without plenty of psychosexual subtexts and The Skin I Live In has them by the cartload, the director ladling on the twists as the story unfolds and the plot becomes ever more ludicrous and complicated. This is essentially an arthouse take on Frankenstein. And a highly camp and entertaining one at that. HHHII
FINAL DESTINATION 5 -- 3D (Horror. Starring Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher. Directed by Steven Quale. Cert 15A)
Hmmh, someone undergoing laser eye treatment in a Final Destination movie -- what could possibly go wrong? Or someone undergoing a nice relaxing massage followed by acupuncture for that matter? And, of course, there's nothing that could possibly do you damage in a restaurant kitchen.
Yes, death has been cheated yet again and is looking for payback after a group of photogenic youngsters escape from a collapsing bridge and meet their demise in increasingly entertaining ways. Director Steven Quale makes full and proper use of 3D as the B-movie gimmick it really is, while delivering an ending that fans who've followed the previous four films will applaud for its ingenuity. I know I certainly did. HHHII