Lone Scherfig’s One Day

It is good and right in this life to be rich and white and attractive. The whiter you become the richer you become. The richer you become the whiter your friends become. The whiter your friends become the more good and right life seems to feel. Anne Hathaway is a negro. You wouldn’t know it to look at her. But she has negro problems. She’s poor. She’s desperate. She gets killed in the street. One Day would like to approach racial violence without the scandal of a bi-racial romance. That is, what Anne Hathaway perceives to be romance. Therefore Anne Hathaway supplants the idea of the negro within her pasty animal body.

Jim Sturgess does not love Anne Hathaway. Sometimes with no other friends around he thinks he can tolerate her. But it is clear if there exists a thing called love he cannot produce it for her. It is mostly because Jim Sturgess cannot see himself with a black woman. It is not that he hates black women, which is what he says out loud in public. It is that he thinks it to himself quite loudly. Anne Hathaway knows it. The filmmakers knew it all along. The audience is unsure. They are divided. The film has divided the world people into two categories. But this is not a problem in the world already divided on so many things. Whiteness and blackness. Richness and also blackness. White people who make laws and black people who get arrested. Jim Sturgess’s lack of love is not the subject of One Day. The subject of One Day is pity. More specifically the capacity of one person to pity another person who is profoundly more privileged than they are.

Mostly it is the job of Anne Hathaway to produce pity. She is a champion. A factory of pity. While the physical drain, stress and degradation of her life is portrayed as humorous – it is an ostensible tragedy for Jim Sturgess to live wealthy, famous, well-connected, charismatic, and able to magnetize as much stanky toward his hang-low as a toilet seat. Apparently the strain of his hyper-Anglo life is too much for him. He takes to drinking a lot of top-shelf alcohol. He takes to sleeping with too many attractive women. He takes to thinking of himself as an artist who is not afforded the integrity he deserves. He takes to crying on stormy nights when Anne Hathaway out betraying his attention with her mediocre boyfriend.

Anne Hathaway has a need to prove her love to Jim Sturgess and the audience. It is because women are capricious and we cannot trust their attractions. It is only when she abandons a superior man that we are allowed to accept her sincerity of love for Jim Sturgess. We weren’t sure because black-people love is cheaper and less sincere than white-people love. It is Anne Hathaway’s ability to produce pity for Jim Sturgess’s white-people problems (i.e. problems that are produced by the white person and the white person’s perception of the world, though not the world itself) where her negro-love is raised to the level of white-people love. And at that moment she transforms from negro status back into a white woman.

No, Jim Sturgess does not love Anne Hathaway. Even after she dies. Some bridges cannot be crossed and are better left burned. But sometimes he wonders if he did love her so as to intensify the pity he feels for himself. The audience also lets themselves believe in his love so as to produce more pity for Jim Sturgess. And that is what makes us better people in the world – our willingness to pity a person in a privileged position. Perhaps we are all negroes in this life. But probably not. Probably only as far as Jim Sturgess is concerned. It is more likely we are all white. Otherwise we would have no desire to see One Day or read or write a review about it . . . $3

If you heart One Day:

Recommendations by Day Gun Sho
When Harry Met Sally
Before Sunrise
Four Weddings and a Funeral

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