Ol Parker, the scriptwriter behind The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is on directorial duties in Now is Good, a predictable drama about a teenage girl (Dakota Fanning) dying from leukaemia. Based on Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die, on paper it would seem that Now is Good has all the required elements for an emotive watch. However, what we get instead is a frequently galling drama that fails to translate Downham’s award-winning text into watchable cinema.
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Fanning plays our leukaemia-stricken protagonist Tessa, who is determined to live out her last remaining days to the fullest. To that end, she refuses to take chemotherapy – to the great disapproval of her optimistic Father (Paddy Considine) – and proceeds to go about her teenage rebellion by losing her virginity, shoplifting, and taking drugs. On hand to assist her is her knocked up best friend Zoey (Kaye Scodelario) and new next door neighbour Adam (Jeremy Irvine).
It is a solid premise which has a lot of potential to be moving, but Parker’s film fails to effectively earn the audiences emotions. It doesn’t help that Tessa is difficult to sympathize with at first, her condition supposedly making it OK for her to steal, disrespect her parents at almost every opportunity and complete other rebellious acts on her ‘bucket list’.
One would not presume to know what a person with terminal leukaemia would be going through, but Fanning’s bland delivery of much of her dialogue does not do much to endear us to her. Combine this with an at times shockingly bad script, and some scenes (more often than not with Irvine’s Adam) become painful viewing. What makes this even more frustrating is that we know these actors are capable of so much more, and there are glimpses of what might have been in the film’s final act. As it turns out it is much too little, much too late, and as the sickness reaches its last stages, it is hard to feel emotional when what has come before has made you feel anything but. Not even solid performances from veterans Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams can do much to improve proceedings.
Any Last Words?” Any inkling of sadness and heartbreak you may fleetingly experience when watching Now is Good is easily outweighed by feelings of exasperation. Simply put, it is a miserable watch for all the wrong reasons.
Now is Good is now showing in UK cinemas. Check out the trailer below: