The 20-year relationship of two almost-lovers and on-again-off-again friends is charted by checking in with them each year on July 15, the day they met after graduating college in 1986. Fortunes rise and fall; jobs come and go; so do lovers and spouses. But always Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) wonder if, in fact, they're really meant to be together. Lone Scherfig (An Education) makes a valiant effort to adapt David Nicholls' novel, but it's a gimmick that worked a lot better on the page than it does on screen. The book provided enough detail that a reader could easily fill in the missing 364 days, as well as imagine the fully developed Emma and Dex navigating the seas of change. Newcomers may find the much-wispier film, with its attractive leads, charming as a light diversion, but will miss the pervasive sense of longing and unease that made the deferred romance of the book so compelling and bittersweet. Sadly, the film fails to engage on those levels, delivering instead a choppy rom-com that does both characters a disservice by severely truncating the book's details. Thus, a confused viewer may be left to ponder ancillary characters who pop out of nowhere, and actions undertaken with seemingly little motivation. Or why the director hired two American actresses (Hathaway, Patricia Clarkson) to struggle through English accents. Starts Fri. Aug. 19.