Some films have one simple goal – to tug on your heartstrings and make you weep. There’s nothing wrong with such an agenda, after all, movies are designed by their very nature to evoke strong emotional reactions, whether it’s laughter, fear or a good old cry. However, every once in a while you get a film so focused and committed to the task that what should have been a heartbreaking tragedy becomes a laughably misguided example of manipulative filmmaking – welcome to Now Is Good.
Based on the novel ‘Before I Die’ by Jenny Downham, Now is Good stars Dakota Fanning as Tessa, a teenage girl dying of leukemia. Unwilling to see out her last remaining days dependent on a cocktail of prescription drugs, Tessa has decided to cease her chemotherapy. Unbeknownst to her dutiful father (Paddy Considine), Tessa has compiled a ‘bucket list’, complete with all the usual ‘rites of passage’ a teenage girl would undertake – top of the list? Losing her virginity.
There’s no denying that the premise behind Now is Good is a tragic and heartbreaking one, with its message about the fragility of existence an important one. Sadly director Ol Parker has failed to articulate Downham’s earnest prose seemingly unconvinced that a tale which combines a terminal illness with a doomed romance has enough emotive clout – instead relying on an abhorrently contrived script, clichéd metaphors and an abundance of Schmaltz. Indeed if Tessa’s dismaying situation doesn’t have you on the brink of tears, Parker will throw every maudlin trick in the book at you just to make sure you leave the theatre red eyed and distraught. It’s this obnoxiously calculated and formulaic approach to storytelling that dilutes the purity and melancholy of this genuinely moving story.
Dakota Fanning’s despondent performance doesn’t help the cause either, clearly lacking the breadth of emotive responses to deal with such a demanding and sensitive subject. British heavyweights Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams should save us from such amateur dramatics, however not even their revered acting talents can successfully convey this contrived dialogue with any semblance of sincerity – whilst delving into Jeremy Irvine’s extremely vapid performance as Adam, the film’s clean-cut, boy next door Adonis would be tantamount to verbal harassment.
It may appear callous to not shed a tear for a story that depicts a teenager facing such grandiose issues of mortality, yet it remains a tragic defamation that this distressing tale should be delivered in such a heavy handed and manipulative fashion.
1 out of 5 Stars
Source: Grolsch Film Works