First Hit: Disappointing overall as the chemistry wasn’t there between the leads and I couldn’t care about Dexter.
This film spans 20 years of time and neither character showed much aging.
Briefly, Emma (played by Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (played by Jim Sturgess) are college mates. The audience sees that Emma likes Dexter but is cautiously afraid of him because she doesn’t feel worthy of his good looks and charm. He is supposedly attracted to her but shouldn't be because she isn't hot enough (that's the feeling I got).
They spend the night together but without sex and the audience is to believe that there is something magical growing between them. They go their separate ways and they keep in touch phone calls and occasional dates. The passage of time is noted by the anniversary of their meeting (July 15th) continues to pop-up on the screen.
Dexter uses his charm and looks to snag a job as a TV host who is supposed to be hip. He spends all his time drinking, snorting coke, and screwing women he doesn’t care about. It isn’t that people cannot redeem themselves, but there must be something that touches the audience where redemption springs up from within the audience want him to redeem himself.
There really isn't anything. Only when he is with his daughter at the end of the film did I even begin to like the guy (and maybe that was the point – but it was too little too late). Meanwhile Emma, wanting to be a writer (poems and a novel) works in a Mexican restaurant in England (where they are both located). Ian (played by Rafe Spall) also works at the restaurant and thinks himself as a comedian. So together they are too lost souls not doing what they believe in but working together in this Mexican restaurant.
Because he is stable, and they are having this pitiful life together, he and Emma decide to move in together. This made no sense as Emma's character just wasn't that dumb to do this and yet the story has her doing this. But she’s supposed to have chemistry with Dexter (her life’s love) and there is none here as well.
As time goes by and both Dexter and Emma find their path back to each other, no matter the dialogue, scripting or scenes, there’s nothing really there between them to make me believe that is a “love of my life” relationship.
For comparison, look at Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in “The Adjustment Bureau” for an example of on-screen chemistry.
Hathaway would have done much better with someone with whom she could create chemistry with along with a director who knew how to get something interesting from his actors. I think her acting here is solid enough, but everything around her is sub-standard. Sturgess has the look of a “player” but there was emptiness about him which made his character two dimensional and not worth caring about. Spall played either did a horrible job at his clueless character or the script was equally clueless. Either way, each time he was on the screen I cringed, he resembled no one I’ve ever run into. Ken Scott (as Dexter’s father) and Patricia Clarkson as the mother were solid in their roles. David Nicholls wrote the screenplay from his book which could have been good. While the direction by Lone Scherfig never captured real characters fully and let the story flail away at drama and romance.
Overall: This film is forgettable and had little to offer in the realm of romance.