For the British author David Nicholls, the key to a good romantic story is avoiding the clichés. “The first kiss, the first night together, the wedding day. There are all these landmarks which are quite familiar and quite obvious,” he said recently.
Instead, his 2009 novel “One Day” follows its two protagonists, Emma and Dexter, on the same day each year for two decades, as they weave in and out of each other’s lives as friends, partners and everything in between.What has happened on the previous 364 days is revealed slowly and indirectly, with many key moments left to the reader’s imagination.
In 2011, the novel — which has been translated into 40 languages and sold millions of copies — was adapted into a film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, and the story has now found new life as a limited series, created by the Scottish screenwriter Nicole Taylor and available on Netflix.
While both adaptations closely follow the structure and plot of the novel, the show devotes the majority of its 14 half-hour-ish episodes to a different year in the pair’s lives. The film’s shorter run time meant significant cuts, so that it ultimately became a “little synopsis of the novel,” according to Nicholls. (In a Times review, the critic A.O. Scott wrote that the film “turns an episodic story into an anthology of feelings and associations.”)
The show’s extended length allows more rounded characters to emerge for Emma (played by Ambika Mod, previously Shruti in “This Is Going to Hurt”) and Dexter (Leo Woodall, who was Jack in Season 2 of “The White Lotus”). We meet them in 1988, on their last night of college, where Emma has kept her head down and worked hard on a double major and Dexterhas been a popular party guy, achieving below average grades in anthropology.
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