I did not like One Day much and neither did the audience. The box office in its first week of limited release was under estimates. But it really riled up Kristy Puchko of Film Stage, who called it “the most toxic romance of the year.” She objected to the disparity between the two. Emma is thoughtful, principled, and diligent, while Dex is self-centered and spoiled.
The visual disparity in their appearance alone is striking. (It’s like Beauty and the Sex Offender.) But what it suggests about these characters status is even more shocking. To recap: when Emma was a frumpy loser with no career prospects, her romantic equal (according to Dex, the film’s ultimate protagonist) was a similarly stunted server with a hopeless goal. But now that Dex is the one who is lost, lonely and physically beat — he sees his romantic equal as wildly successful and enviably gorgeous Emma. This double standard asserts to impressionable audience members that girls should aspire to Lancome good looks to land even a once-handsome man.
SPOILER ALERT: She also objects to the ending, which seems to suggest that Emma’s ultimate purpose was to sacrifice herself to give Dex a growth experience. I had the same problem with both the book and movie and would be glad to hear from a fan who feels otherwise.