“Now Is Good” starts like any rebellious teen movie — a girl partying late with her bad-influence friend — but unlike other films, this girl is dying of cancer.
Before losing the battle to leukemia, Tessa (Dakota Fanning) is hell-bent on crossing items off of her bucket list, which includes having sex, stealing and doing drugs. But what writer/director Ol Parker makes clear through shots of her longingly staring at canoodling couples is what Tessa really wants is to fall in love.
As she waits, her rebellion wears on a bit predictably.
She asks a radio DJ for tips to get drugs during an interview, she’s caught stealing and she hops a motorcycle with her neighbor, Adam, while her and her father (Paddy Considine) wait at a stoplight. This grows tiresome fast as director Parker peppers in flashes of Tessa’s family life.
Her father is “cancer-obsessed,” and her mother (Olivia Williams) is a bit flighty to say the least. “Now Is Good” finally picks up a bit when Adam (Josef Altin) enters.
He left college to recover from his dad’s death, and has since moved in with his mother. During a mushroom hallucination, Tessa confesses that the only time she doesn’t think about death is when she’s with him.
It was love at first trip.
Fanning plays sassy with a blonde bob and British accent well. She’s hauntingly pixie-like and seems to have shed her child-actor exterior. Considine as Tessa’s father exudes caring, love and denial so well that I was consistently annoyed with her for putting him through the wringer. Actor Altin does his part as a dashing modern-day prince, and my heart went out to him.
Performances aside, “Now Is Good” had all of the elements for a solid coming-of-age reflection on life and death, but it didn’t quite deliver. It’s based off of novel “Before I Die,” by Jenny Downham, which may have been the better medium.
In this film, Tessa is written as very reactionary, allowing little to no time for character development or insight into her inner turmoil as a dying teen. This makes it difficult to empathize with her and see her as more than a defiant kid — and her character is so much more complicated.
If you stick to the end, “Now Is Good” makes up for this in performances and a focused meditation on life. But for an almost two-hour film about how precious time is, this may not be worth it.
Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.
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