Confession: I never read David Nicholls' best-seller on which this romantic drama is based, and I simply cannot fathom why anyone would want to see such a depressing dirge about two young Brits whose lives seem to intersect every July 15, St. Swithin's Day, for 20 years, beginning in 1988.

Ambitious, aspiring writer Emily Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet just as they're graduating from university, ready to launch forth into the world. Determined to continue their hastily forged friendship, they try to spend July 15th catching up and consoling one another. She's frumpy and bespectacled, indicating `bookish,' while he's a wealthy, irresponsible womanizer. Of course, she's secretly in love with him, despite having her hopes dashed with predictably regularity.

Eventually, Dex becomes a trendy late-night TV host, while Emma writes a successful children's book. But their personal lives are a mess. Drug-addled, hard-partying Dex impregnates and marries Sylvie (Romola Garai), an upper-class socialite, while dowdy Emma moves in with Ian (Rafe Spall, son of actor Timothy), a wannabe stand-up comedian. It's obvious that both of these relationships are doomed from the getgo. Meanwhile, Dex loses his devoted mother (Patricia Clarkson) to cancer.

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Adapted for the screen by novelist David Nicholls and helmed by Danish director Lone Scherfig ("An Education"), it's infuriatingly episodic, even tedious, never developing the characters beyond a tear-tugging layer of schmaltzy superficiality as the yearly scenes increasingly become shallow, redundant sketches about finding one's soul mate. Even more bewildering is the total lack of erotic screen chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Don't directors do screen tests anymore -- to determine such things?

Having made such an auspicious debut in "The Princess Diaries," Anne Hathaway has floundered through her past couple of roles ("Love and Other Drugs," "Valentine's Day"), despite making a fashion splash co-hosting this year's Academy Awards with hapless James Franco . Jim Sturgess is best known for "Across the Universe."

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "One Day" is a dreadfully disappointing 3, culminating in maudlin melodrama.