After emerging as a child actress in Man on Fire and War of the Worlds, Dakota Fanning came of age in The Runaways and Now is Good, Ol Parker’s adaptation of Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die. With short blond hair and a gaunt appearance, Fanning’s transformation into a sickly Brighton girl is the one notable factor in an otherwise annoyingly shallow look at terminal illness.
While suffering from leukaemia, Tessa defies her controlling father (Paddy Considine) and her wayward, frequently absent mother (Olivia Williams) by drawing up her own bucket list of things to do. Many of the activities are conventional youthful aspirations, like taking drugs, breaking the law and having sex. But while co-conspirator Zoey (Kaya Scodelario) is a willing accomplice, the sex requires the help of a local hunk Adam (War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine). Despite the disapproval of her father, Tessa and Adam embark on a relationship as intense and genuine as it is doomed and short.
Now Is Good makes great play of how Adam might cope with Tessa’s illness, but aside from one notable nosebleed, Parker’s script never gets to grips with the harsh realities of terminal cancer. Instead, Now Is Good mounts a conventionally manipulative disease-of-the-week pattern of behaviour, the characters spontaneously making snow angels on the ground while drippy pop music washes over the soundtrack.
Parker’s script for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel marked him out as having a feel for sensitively capturing relationships on film, but Now Is Good instead sees him replicating the surface gloss and inner schmaltz of his awful debut, romcom Imagine Me and You. With reliable performers like Considine and Williams all at sea, only Fanning deserves any credit: the struggles of her ill-starred ingénue commands more pathos than Parker’s crude wallow in misfortune deserves.
1 out of 5 Stars
Source: List Film