A love story that’s lost in translation

Film
ONE DAY
Cert: 12A

I’LL be honest. Despite its candy-like accessibility, I cried when reading One Day, particularly the bit near the end that you fear all along but that your conscious brain never allows itself to imagine.

And I’m not alone. You’ve probably seen people, from hoodies to bankers, snivelling on the Tube, clutching that now-iconic orange and white cover. In a publishing phenomenon, David Nicholls, author of Starter for Ten, managed to get millions reading his book, making them forget about their mobile games and even City A.M.s (fancy!) for those riveting 300-odd pages.

The book’s simple-but-genius idea is this: each chapter is a snapshot of its central duo, the star-crossed lovers Emma and Dexter, on the same July day for 20 years.

Well, the film was inevitable. And with all books that people care passionately about, the film had to be great. Which is to say, we needed to love Dexter and Emma.

The makers of the film – it’s directed by An Education’s Lone Scherfig – made that already-difficult job even harder by casting Brooklyn-born Anne Hathaway in the role of Leeds lass Emma Mayhew.

Surprise, surprise, Hathaway’s way off. I’d be surprised if any American actress bar Meryl Streep would be. But if you can get over her laughably roving accent (Dales one minute, Chelsea the next), you might enjoy Jim Sturgess’s solid performance as the sexy, self-damaging Dexter.

The other issue with this film is that it’s not sure when and how it wants to be funny. The result is a flattish romance that is a bit funny, and a bit sad, but that lacks the intensity that created such waterworks in readers.

Zoe Strimpel

CONAN THE BARBARIAN
Cert: 15

THE original Conan the Barbarian film, made in 1982, was the flick that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a superstar.

The same will not be the case for Jason Momoa, the Hawaian dude who has inherited Conan’s loin-cloth in this glum, blustering, CGI-heavy remake. No matter how wooden Arnie was, he always had a magnetism. Momoa has all the charisma of a wet flannel, and no amount of black eyeliner can change that.

Conan, a character first created in the pulp swords-n-sorcery novels of Thomas E Howard in 1932, is quite a miffed young chap. His wise warrior dad, played by Ron Perlman, gets murdered by villainous warlock Khalar Zim when Conan’s but a lad, so he grows up with revenge on his mind. It’s not long before limbs and heads start getting lopped off by the barrel-load as he goes after Khalar Zim, who’s now bent on brining the realm of Hyboria under his evil dominion.

This film is impressively boring. As in every blockbuster of recent times, it seems the filmmakers have spent about five minutes on the script and two years on the 3D special effects, which smother the life out of everything. Even the best action sequences could easily have been cut and pasted from similar recent films like Prince of Persia or Clash of the Titans and you’d hardly notice.

The only thing to divert the attention is Rose McGowan, having fiendish fun as Khalar Zim’s witch of a daughter with some distinctly nefarious plans of her own. The film’s a noisy, gory ride, but one that stubbornly refuses to be memorable in any way.

Timothy Barber

THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Cert: 18

AUTEUR Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and his star Antoino Banderas both put in their best work in years in this riveting, dizzyingly peculiar film about skin, beauty, identity, fear and an awful lot more. To go into too much detail with the plot would be to detract from its twisty, turny, absurdist brilliance, but the set-up is this: Banderas is Dr Robert Ledgard, a rather creepy plastic surgeon living in a very cool house, where he has a mysterious beauty is a flesh-coloured body-stocking held captive.

He’s performing experiments with a synthetic, indestructible skin; she’s his guinea pig, and possibly his lover. But how did she get there? Who is she really? And what’s the weirdo son of his housekeeper got to do with it?

The plot leaps back-and-forth in time, gradually unlocking the mysteries of the past that have lead to the madness of the present. Almodovar manipulates it all like the true master he is, bringing the pieces to bare bit by bit, shining his light into ever darker corners. Enthralling, exciting stuff, and beautifully stylish too.

TB