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Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess explore two decades' worth of friendship in One Day. ( )

A Director's Take On 'One Day' (And 20 Years)

by NPR Staff
Aug 20, 2011 (Weekend Edition Saturday)

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One Day director Lone Sherfig says adapting David Nichols' novel into a two-hour film was "a big responsibility both to the writer and the readers."

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Danish director Lone Scherfig is making an international name for herself as a female director whose films tend to focus on human relationships — think of 2002's Italian for Beginners and 2009's An Education. Her latest film, One Day, is a romance based on the best-selling novel by British author David Nichols. The story chronicles one day in the life of two characters, Emma and Dexter, as it occurs over 20 years.

Scherfig tells NPR's Jacki Lyden that the day itself — July 15 — is not particularly significant.

"It's just the day when we check in on the characters every year whether they are together or not," she says. "And it's deliberately a random day. But it lets you see the characters sometimes on days when you normally wouldn't see them on film and at other times at bigger events or crucial turning points."

When we first meet her in 1988, Emma, played by Anne Hathaway, is an insecure A student with a huge appetite for literature and a dream of becoming a writer. She runs into privileged, lazy Dexter (played by Jim Sturgess) as they are both graduating from university. They are an unlikely pair, but that's part of what attracted Scherfig to the story.

"It is an ongoing theme [in my work]: odd couples or people who are not very good at expressing themselves," she says. "I like to see losers win, so I do get attracted to scripts that have some sort of unpredictability built in."

Still, transferring Nichols' novel to the screen was not an undertaking that Scherfig took lightly.

"This book is so loved and became extremely popular while we were shooting," she says. "[Making the film was] a big responsibility both to the writer and the readers."

It was particularly challenging to fit the entirety of Nichols' story — and the passage of 20 years — into two hours. Doing so required Scherfig to tap her broad director's "toolbox," including costumes, props and a soundtrack that flows from 1988 to 2008.

Scherfig hopes the end result will appeal to the book's legions of fans as well as those who have never read it. But as personal as the film feels to her, she realizes that the time has come for her to let go.

"With One Day, it's like the feeling you had when you saw your child walking to school for the first time. ... I have to just get re-used to it. It's not my film anymore. It belongs to the audience," she says. "I can't keep fixing it."

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New In Paperback: May 23-29

May 25, 2011

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One Day by David Nicholls The Associate by John Grisham Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King Superfreakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon

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One Day

by David Nicholls

David Nicholls' romantic comedy One Day has become one of Britain's most popular novels and may rise on U.S. best-seller lists after the movie version with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess arrives this summer. Each chapter is a snapshot of where July 15 finds the main characters over the 20 years following their high school graduation, as they keep finding — and just missing — each other.

448 pages, $14.95, Vintage Books

The Associate

by John Grisham

An ambitious lawyer at a moral crossroads may be a stock character when it comes to John Grisham's thrillers, but his legions of fans don't mind. This time, our hero is a 25-year-old Yale Law School grad aiming for public service, who is blackmailed into becoming a spy for a cutthroat Wall Street firm with a sordid video from his fraternity house.

384 pages, $16, Bantam Books

Full Dark, No Stars

by Stephen King

Veteran horror writer Stephen King launches a one-man campaign to resuscitate the short fiction genre with his new collection of four original stories. Retribution, greed and self-deception figure prominently here, along with dark humor and total gore, in a reading experience that book critics and fans both say is classic King.

400 pages, $16, Pocket Books

Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt

In SuperFreakonomics, the follow-up to their 4 million-copy-selling Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have fired yet another provocative salvo at conventional wisdom. In their crusade to make economics ("the dismal science") less, well, dismal, Levitt and Dubner now venture into colorful topics such as a "practically free" solution to climate change, the legacy of Robert S. McNamara, human organ sales and "drunk-walking," in each instance using economics' science and statistics to explain the unseen causes of the vagaries of behavior. The results are, expectedly, fascinating.

320 pages, $15.99, Harper Perennial

Thank You Notes

by Jimmy Fallon

The comedian and host of Late Night is appreciative of the word "moist" — for being the "worst word ever." He's thankful, too, for taco shells that have survived their long journey from factory to supermarket to his plate — and then break the moment he fills them. And he's grateful that the name Lloyd starts with two L's. Otherwise, he says, it would just sound like "Loyd." Fallon collects more than 100 nuggets of gratitude in his book, Thank You Notes. The book is based on a recurring segment on Late Night, when Fallon and his staff round up mundane things that don't get enough attention and give them each the praise they deserve.

176 pages, $12, Grand Central Publishing

Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag .
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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