On page, this tale of quintessential British star-crossed lovers who grew up together and apart for the period of twenty years seemed so fresh, invigoratingly wise, written with delicate heartbreak, humour, perceptiveness and romantic anguish. But onscreen, it lacks almost everything the novel tried to be. Scherfig’s direction is pale, at worst conventional, redundant to many of cinema’s rom-com excesses, the will-they-or-they-won’t narrative thread, the non-sexual relationship between friends explored by When Harry Met Sally, the tragic comeuppance of a million Hollywood tearjerkers. The story’s structure, albeit an interesting one, is played out with a montage approach, showing year by year like a long, never-ending music video. And when the emotional notes come, they are dealt with briefly and haphazardly. Even a soiree in Paris between a Jean Seberg-like Emma and a douchebag-looking Dexter sounds like the stuff cinema is built for, but the cinematic detail that Scherfig opts for is frustratingly passionless. Her effort, as it seems, tries very hard to appeal to the American audience and this is the film’s central tragedy.
A misguided adaptation that fails to be as witty, poignant and heartbreaking as its original source, resulting in a sexless, lacklustre and crushingly conventional romantic caper. This only adds evidence to a universal truth that some books are better left untouched.