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Fenton InPrint Online

The student news site of Fenton High School

Fenton InPrint Online

The student news site of Fenton High School

Fenton InPrint Online

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Bookmarked: Page to Screen


Editor’s note: the following content contains spoilers for the novel and series adaptation of “One Day.” 

The recently released Netflix series “One Day” is a film adaptation of the 2009 novel written by David Nicholls. The two both eloquently express the story of two individuals struggling to understand the complexities of their relationship, and the discovery of their self-identities. Overall, this film adaptation’s attention to detail and highly emotional delivery undoubtedly does the original boom justice. 

The narrative follows Emma and Dex, who meet on the night of their university commencement. From that moment, the two share a complex relationship over the course of twenty years that takes an emotional toll on the two and the readers, ranging from playful romance, platonic friendships, resentment and ultimately marriage and true love. 

Nicholls’s writing is deeply emotional and compelling, and he manages to pull his readers in with intrigue and hope for Emma and Dexter. He is able to create situations, feelings and moments that are highly relatable to his vast international audience. Unrequited love, navigating strictly platonic relationships to something more and the quintessential college student experience are all things that Nicholls brings to life through his prose and dialogue. 

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The Netflix series is comprised of 14 total episodes and stars Ambika Mod as Emma and Leo Woodall as Dexter. The first few moments of the opening episode draw you in, and immediately sparks viewer’s curiosity and intrigue in regards to Emma and Dex. The show has a lovely pace, one that reflects the natural ebb and flow of their dynamic relationship, and never feels like it is dragging or rushed. 

The show does an excellent job of intertwining all of the minute emotional details that are present within the novel. This emotional depth and nuance is something often lacking in film adaptations of novels, and the casting of “One Day” truly delivers. Mod’s facial expressions and mannerisms convey her feelings and reactions in such a way that is rarely seen and understood so widely on the screen. 

The most striking difference between the novel and the series is simply the timeline. Though some of the minute details have varied from the original narrative to adaptations, the tragic ending remains the same. Emma’s untimely and completely unexpected death happens earlier in the series than the novel, though this slight change doesn’t heavily impact the storytelling. On the other hand, the biggest difference between the two mediums is that Dexter moves on, and finds a new love interest in the novel, but not in the show. Following Emma’s death in the series, Dex navigates grief with a heavy heart, and I think this difference was essential in adjusting for the screen because introducing a new romance for Dex in the series would have felt rushed and cheap. I think this element was also essential to the novel, because within literature there are more opportunities for emotional elaboration and the passage of time occurs more fluently, making this new relationship fit into the narrative and provides a realistic perspective on grief. 

The “One Day” novel is available at Target and on Amazon, and the series is available on Netflix.

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