Now Is Good comes from director Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who developed the screenplay from novel Before I Die by Jenny Downham.
Now Is Good
comes from director Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who developed
the screenplay from novel Before I Die by Jenny Downham. Seventeen year old Tessa (Dakota Fanning) is the typical teenager: moody, stubborn and says it like it is
to everyone around her. The
difference is she is dying from terminal leukaemia. Having contracted the illness and suffered gruelling
treatment and periods of remission, the film begins when she has decided to
cease all treatment and allow the disease to progress. With her father (Paddy Considine) looking on in desperate worry, she attempts to
fulfil each wish on her bucket list as quickly as possible. She wants to experience ‘as much as she
can as fast as she can,’ including all actions of a rebellious nature; having sex, taking drugs, starting a
fight, stealing money and shoplifting. Soon she meets heartthrob boy-next-door Adam (Jeremy Irvine) and a sweet, adolescent love
story begins against the scenic backdrop of modern Brighton.
Now Is Good is certainly less melodramatic than films with a similar
storyline like My Sister’s Keeper, A Walk to Remember or Love Story. Instead, it omits most of the harsh physical realities of a
brutal disease in favour of a focus on character relationships and Tessa’s
determination to fulfil her dreams.
There are a few glimpses of Tessa’s physical suffering but it is never
overly harrowing to watch. Most of
the negative emotion that we see from Tessa is her mood swings but it is not
always clear whether this is because she is a teenager acting out or because
she is resentful of the prospect of missing out on life. In fact it is the normality of life carrying
on around her, with her best friend’s problems and the innocence of her brother
playing around the garden that firmly pulls on the heartstrings. There is always an underlying, creeping
feeling that the clock is ticking and time is running out.
The familial relationships in this film are more real; the dysfunctional family with the
divorced parents and the rebelling teenager. Olivia Williams
makes a nice character turn around as Tessa’s mother in denial about her
daughter’s illness. Fanning is
simply excellent as Tessa, but while it is easy to empathise with the
character’s plight, her abrupt manner makes you want to slap rather than hug
her. The raw emotion in the film
comes from gritty Brit favourite Considine. His meaningful, heartfelt performance as a loving father
full of impending grief is simultaneously painful and absorbing to watch.
Tessa and Adam’s relationship is sweet, genuine and a fairly
believable ‘boy rescues girl’ love story, with moments when Adam admits his
inability to handle the situation.
Their relationship is not altogether realistic, with their long talks
and romantic liaisons of kisses during fireworks and motorbike
rides on the beach. It is also not
altogether believable that a boy of Adam’s age would become so dedicated to a
dying girl having just met her. However,
is it not true that the young fall in love notoriously quickly anyway? With unrealistic adolescent love stories
like Twilight proving so popular
amongst today’s teens, there is no harm in romanticising a love story between a
handsome boy and a dying girl. In
fact it carries a nice little message that love heals – maybe not physically
but certainly emotionally.
Now Is Good may lack the emotional depth of say Dying Young or Philadelphia, but ultimately it is a romantic little tearjerker
about love, fate and a desire to enjoy life while you can.