Interpersonal Communication in the “One Day” Film

The specifics of communication between a man and a woman who are in relations that they define as friendship, but that can actually be described as love, are interesting to be examined in detail. The focus of this paper is on the analysis of interpersonal communication observed between the characters of One Day (2011), a romantic movie directed by Lone Scherfig. In this movie, Anne Hathaway represented the character of Emma Morley, and Jim Sturgess represented the character of Dexter Mayhew. Emma and Dexter became friends after their university graduation, and they were developing their relationships throughout the lifetime.

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The progress of Emma and Dexter’s communication based on their mostly hidden feelings toward each other developing throughout their life can be explained with reference to the stages of relational development in general and to the nature of interpersonal communication, language, self-fulfilling prophecy, and emotions in particular situations. The examples to analyze referring to theoretical models include the situation when Emma and Dexter get acquitted, the situation observed in several years when Emma discloses her feelings to Dexter, and the situation in Paris when Emma informs Dexter about having a boyfriend.

Example One: Getting Acquainted

In this scene, Emma and Dexter become formally acquainted after their university graduation celebration and reveal that they met each other before that day, but Dexter does not remember this fact. It is possible to notice that both the man and the woman are interested in each other, that can be supported by Dexter’s proposition to walk Emma to her house (Movieclips, 2011a). The first theoretical model to apply to this situation is the stages of relational development, which explains how different types of relations can progress from coming together as friends or partners to coming apart (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017g).

According to this model, Emma and Dexter are on the experimenting stage when they are involved in a small talk and demonstrate their sympathy toward each other. Descriptive terms for emotions represent another important model that allows for determining what emotions both the characters experience during their short conversation (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017f). Thus, during their talk, Emma seems to be rather playful, and Dexter is quite enthusiastic to attract the woman’s attention to his personality. Both Emma and Dexter demonstrate the eagerness to continue their communication.

It is also necessary to analyze the nature of language that is used by the characters as the third theoretical model to consider. The reason for focusing on the subjective language is that the characters use it in order to share certain hidden meanings (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017d).

For example, Emma says to Dexter, “You’re delightful,” while referring to his horrible behavior noticed at her birthday party, and she also indicates that it is rather an ironical note that cannot be perceived seriously (Movieclips, 2011a). However, the actual message she may want to deliver to Dexter is that the man is really delightful, and it is the woman’s try to demonstrate her sympathy. The example serves as an illustration for the theory of stages of relational development indicating the particular phase for Emma and Dexter’s relationships, allows for identifying speakers’ emotions easily, and allows for focusing on the subjective nature of language.

Example Two: Telling about Feelings

The second scene depicts how Emma and Dexter talk about their life experience and memorize their days at the university. Emma discloses to Dexter, “I had a crush on you,” and he responds that he knew that or guessed about that (Movieclips, 2011b). It is possible to state that Dexter’s response makes Emma feel confused, and she changes the line of their talk. The nature of interpersonal communication has such features as uniqueness, interdependence, self-disclosure, and intrinsic rewards (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017a).

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In this example, the focus is on the self-disclosure of Emma. Talking to a close friend, she wants to share her unique feelings, feel support, and receive intrinsic rewards, but self-disclosure makes her feel uncomfortable because of Dexter’s superior or complacent reaction.

The perception process also explains the nature of the misunderstanding between the characters as these individuals effectively recognize both first-order and second-order realities, but the man refuses to respond in a manner that will comfort Emma (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017c). Still, it is also possible to admit that Dexter just decided not to demonstrate his understanding of the second-order reality message and not to develop relationships with Emma.

Another model that can help to explain the development of the relationships between the characters in One Day is the theory of listening styles. According to this model, there are several types of listening to pay attention to, including task-oriented, analytical, relational, and critical one (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017e). Although Dexter demonstrates the signs of relational listening, his response does not contribute to creating a positive atmosphere and supporting Emma (Movieclips, 2011b). Thus, it is possible to conclude that the male character fails to effectively use the advantages of relational listening in order to develop closer relations with the woman.

The analysis of the second example according to the selected three models indicates that Emma is oriented toward self-disclosing through messages related to both first-order and second-order realities, but Dexter chooses to react in an unexpected way and fails to use relational listening successfully. At this stage, Emma chooses to reject her real feelings as well in order to feel better and less confused. As a result, both the characters seem to lose a chance to open their feelings to each other in order to develop their relationship as partnership and love.

Example Three: Meeting in Paris

In several years, Emma and Dexter meet again in Paris where the woman lives and develops her career as a writer. At the current stage, Dexter is divorced, and he arrives to Paris in order to encounter Emma and develop their romantic relationship as he has become aware of his feelings toward the woman. In the scene, Emma meets Dexter in the airport, and the man emotionally tells that the period of his visit depends on her decision.

However, Emma interrupts him stating that she needs to tell the man something important (Movieclips, 2011c). It is assumed that Emma has a boyfriend in Paris, and this scene illustrates one more stage of the development of these characters’ relations to focus on in order to understand their growth as personalities. According to the stages of relational development, Emma and Dexter are on the differentiating stage when they need to focus on their own needs and desires and reestablish their identities (Adler et al., 2017g). The example directly illustrates this stage because the conflict observed between the characters does not represent the decline in their relations but a kind of their separation from each other.

The second important model to analyze the example is self-fulfilling prophecy. According to this model, a person’s expectations can influence his or her behavior (Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor, 2017b). In this case, Dexter expects to receive a positive answer from Emma because he had a proof of her feelings toward him. As a result, that expectation made him act decisively and actively, as he believed in his success.

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Still, Emma’s actual reaction to the man’s words is different because of her particular life situation (Movieclips, 2011c). In this example, it is possible to observe how the self-fulfilling prophecy is realized to shape a person’s behavior and intention, but expectations and beliefs can be unsupported by a real life situation, as it is presented with reference to Emma’s reaction to Dexter’s words.

Finally, the theory of expressing emotions is also applicable to this example. The ability to identify people’s emotions is extremely important for guaranteeing that the communication is effective, and all the delivered messages are understood appropriately and provoke emotions they were intended to stimulate (Adler at el., 2017f). Sensitivity to other people’s emotions can be viewed as a key to a successful communication and the development of comfortable and close relationships. In the discussed example, Emma quickly and effectively recognized Dexter’s emotions, and that caused her to interrupt his emotional speech (Movieclips, 2011c).

On the contrary, Dexter was not able to decode excellently Emma’s emotions during their informal greeting in the airport. Thus, the analyzed scene from One Day can be discussed as an effective example of the communication between close people when they are involuntarily at the stage of differentiating because of external factors or feelings of one of the partners.

Conclusion

The three short scenes taken from One Day serve as effective examples of the interpersonal communication between two characters who are in complex relationships that are problematic to be defined easily. In this context, Emma and Dexter tend to demonstrate sympathy toward each other, they recognize their own feelings, but they are not ready to discuss them openly in order to develop their relationships as a couple.

The examples that can illustrate the progress of these relations represent different time periods, which adds to their quality. Thus, the focus on the time when Emma and Dexter get acquainted, when they meet each other after several years, and when Dexter is ready to disclose his feelings is critical to examine the tendency in these characters’ communication and the ability to understand each other.

In order to interpret these characters’ clear and hidden messages delivered to each other, it has been relevant to apply the following theoretical models and concepts. They are the nature of interpersonal communication, self-fulfilling prophecy, the perception process, the nature of language, the application of different listening styles, the ability to express emotions, descriptive terms to indicate emotions, and stages of relational development.

The examples from One Day effectively match the key concepts selected for the analysis in this paper. From this perspective, even if the characters are unable to admit or define the nature of relationships in which they are involved, the language they use, the messages they deliver, and the emotions they express directly and indirectly accentuate different phases of the relational development cycle.

References

Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017a). Chapter 1: Interpersonal process. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 3-67). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017b). Chapter 3: Interpersonal communication and the self. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 69-101). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017c). Chapter 4: Perceiving others. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 102-133). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017d). Chapter 5: Language. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 134-165). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017e). Chapter 7: Listening: Receiving and responding. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 195-223). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017f). Chapter 8: Emotions. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 227-257). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Adler, R. B., Rosenfeld, L. B., & Proctor, R. F. (2017g). Chapter 9: Dynamics of interpersonal relationships. In R. B. Adler, L. B. Rosenfeld & R. F. Proctor (Eds.), Interplay: The process of interpersonal communication (14th ed.) (pp. 259-289). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Movieclips. (2011a). One Day #1 movie CLIP – We’ve never met (2011) HD [Video file]. Web.

Movieclips. (2011b). One Day #2 movie CLIP – I had a crush on you (2011) HD [Video file]. Web.

Movieclips. (2011c). One Day #5 movie CLIP – A writer in Paris (2011) HD [Video file]. Web.

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