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Now Is Good

Now Is Good

Released 19 September 2012
Director Ol Parker
Starring


Jeremy Irvine, Dakota Fanning, Paddy Considine, Kaya Scodelario, Olivia Williams
Writer(s) Ol Parker
Producer(s)

Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 103 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 15A
40

Not so good.

Now Is Good tells the story of sixteen year old Tessa Scott (Dakota Fanning), a Brighton girl in the final stages of leukaemia who makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies. Topping her list are things like committing a crime, taking drugs and losing her virginity.

While the concept sounds promising, Now Is Good does very little with it. The film is a rough mix of dark and light humour that never really gels, and tragedy that never really rings true, despite a mostly strong performance by the cast. Most disappointing is the fact that despite a dark premise, Now Is Good completely fails to be subversive or shocking, and instead is another forgettable drama.

From the opening animated title sequence set to Lana Del Rey’s 'Blue Jeans' (which may as well scream: “This is an indie drama”) Now Is Good gets almost everything about its delivery wrong. The witty, clever dialogue between Tessa and her best friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario, best known as Effy from Skins) has plenty of light humour, and for the first hour or so it is barely clear that Tessa is even sick. I dare anybody’s eyes not to roll when Tessa’s first real emotional crisis is solved by the boy of her dreams (Jimmy Irvine) moving into the house next door. Every time the script attempts to move from comedy into actual drama, the emotions are handled with soap opera cheesiness.

The hip soundtrack (which includes Ellie Goulding, M83 and the Flaming Lips) adds almost nothing to the film’s emotion, and is at times so out of place that it seems to have been chosen to appeal to the film’s target audience rather than supporting what is happening on screen.

Despite this weird mix of style and emotion that never quite sits right, the acting on display is quite good. Even if some of her lines are downright awful, Fanning carries the film well in the lead role, and with a surprisingly proficient accent. By the time we finally get some indication of her illness (although it comes far too late) Fanning succeeds in relating the fear and acceptance that the preceding film has struggled to impart. Paddy Considine maintains his usual high standard as Tessa’s father. His emotional arc from denial to stoical toughness to absolute grief is by far the best thing about Now Is Good.

However a few good performances aren’t enough to save Now Is Good from forgettable mediocrity. Director Ol Parker tries too hard to do too many things, and never manages to bring the conflicting elements together. Perhaps most annoyingly, the highly provocative angle of the story (teenage sex and drugs) has been softened up to the point where it is almost totally inconsequential to the plot. Given that this is the actual premise on which the film was sold, it feels like a massive cop-out. With nothing to set it apart, Now Is Good is an utterly predictable and average drama.

- Bernard O’Rourke