After penning the script for this year’s surprise British hit ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ which was packed to the brim with national treasures, it’s perhaps inevitable that Ol Parker turns back to perfecting the art of directing. Retitled for the cinematic massive, he tackles here a sensitive subject matter using Jenny Downham’s acclaimed novel of ‘Before I Die’ as inspiration.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Ol Parker and based on the novel by Jenny Downham, Now Is Good stars Dakota Fanning as Tessa, a 17 year old British girl who has opted out of continued treatment for her terminal leukaemia, much to the concern of her over-protective father (Paddy Considine), her younger brother (Edgar Canham) and her separated mother (Olivia Williams). Instead, Tessa plans to live out the rest of her life to the full, so she writes a secret list of things she wants to do before she dies (lose virginity, take drugs, shoplift, etc) and asks her best friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario) to help her tick them off. However, when she meets her sensitive new neighbour Adam (Jeremy Irvine, down off his War Horse), the pair find themselves falling for each other, which is something Tessa hadn’t counted on.
So what’s it about then?
Now is Good follows the story of Tessa, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Determined to do everything she possibly can before she ultimately passes *sob*, Tessa goes about losing her virginity, getting drunk, and all the usual things you might expect of someone living out their last days.Then she goes and big-fat-falls-in-love with Adam – and things get a lot more complicated.
Last Sunday, My Sister’s Keeper was on TV. I tried, really tried not to watch it but it being a Sunday evening, it was a great time for wallowing and I wept my way throughout the entire movie. Cut to the next morning – a typical Monday and the preview email for Now Is Good popped into my inbox, so why not continue with the depression session?
Dakota Fanning stars in the British big screen adaptation of Jenny Downham’s Before I Die, albeit more cheerfully entitled Now is Good. Directed by scriptwriter Ol Parker (The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel), the film is a tear-jerkingly predictable drama about a teenager with Leukaemia. Reminiscent of an old US after school special, Now is Goodnot only gently tackles terminal illness, but also teenage pregnancy and familial dysfunction. Somehow, Parker’s film manages to make all three topics entirely and equally uninteresting.
This teenage tearjerker starring two of Hollywood’s future mega-stars, Dakota Fanning and Jeremy Irvine, meddles with your expectations from the start. Adapted from Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die – no wonder they changed the title – it’s about 17-year-old assertive Tessa Scott (Dakota Fanning) who is dying from terminal leukaemia. With time running out she writes a bucket list of things she wants to experience before she dies; high on the list is losing her virginity.
“Is it the whole dying-girl thing, or do you have something original planned?” When the leukemia-afflicted protag of “Now Is Good” foxes a radio interviewer with this question, she could be asking the same thing of the filmmakers. Writer-helmer Ol Parker’s warmhearted, well-acted sophomore feature delivers a bit of both, spiking the Nicholas Sparks-style teen “Love Story” plot with refreshing flashes of sex, drugs and Ellie Goulding songs. Young auds should respond sympathetically when the pic bows in Blighty, with the pretty pairing of a British-accented Dakota Fanning and rising star Jeremy Irvine lending moderate international appeal.
Adapting Jenny Downham’s book Before I Die director and screenwriter of Now is Good, Ol Parker, could have easily fallen into the tempting trap of extracting every ounce of schmaltz that the poster might suggest. Telling the story of Tessa (Dakota Fanning), a 17 year old girl who, having undergone treatment for leukaemia for four years, has decided to let the inevitable happen and live out her remaining time ticking off things on her ‘to-do’ list before she dies. The list is a typical teenage wish list which includes doing illegal drugs and having sex.
THERE’S nothing like a terminal illness for firing up a sappy romantic drama.
Which is probably what attracted the writers of Love And Other Drugs, The Last Song and A Little Bit Of Heaven to this increasingly popular genre.
Thankfully, this latest entrant is a little less cloying than most.
Much of that is down to a gritty turn from former child star Dakota Fanning.