Now Is Good - Review
Review by Jack Foley
NOW is probably a good time to point out that Ol Parker’s latest film isn’t particularly good. Yes, it’ll probably leave you in floods of tears (judging by the chorus of sniffing and nose blowing that accompanied my screening) but it struggles to avoid feeling both manipulative and formulaic.
Based on the novel Before I Die by Jenny Downham, the film stars Dakota Fanning as Tessa Scott, a terminally ill teenager suffering from leukaemia who draws up a bucket list of things to do to the consternation of her dad (Paddy Considine).
At first, the list is full of rebellious things such as one night stands and shoplifting but once Tessa meets boy-next-door Adam (War Horse‘s Jeremy Irvine), she begins to appreciate the finer things in life such as falling in love for the first time.
As noble as any film is that deals with a terminal disease, one of the biggest problems with Parker’s film lies with Fanning’s central character, who is simply too difficult to like in spite of her condition.
It’s a brave move but ultimately a thankless one as viewers may well spend a lot of their time sympathising with the other characters, such as Considine’s long-suffering dad or Irvine’s soon-to-be-heartbroken neighbour (already struggling with the loss of his dad).
The limitations imposed by the screenplay don’t help either, as many of Tessa’s decisions don’t seem realistic (drug taking and shoplifting as a thing to do before you die?). Or when they do they feel contrived given the sudden change of character.
The comedic elements don’t work well either, feeling clumsy when compared to the likes of The Big C on TV, while a lot of the chemistry between the leads feels forced – pay close enough attention and some scenes look and feel wholly staged.
Parker manipulates the final third to ring out the tears, by virtue of the inevitable farewells and heart-rending scenes of illness, but by then the damage has been done and the film feels all the more annoying for it.
In the final analysis, Now Is Good feels every bit as forced and patronising as his screenplay for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel earlier this year, which also probably means that mainstream viewers will go all gooey for what it has to offer.
Running time: 104mins
UK Release Date: September 19, 2012