Now Is Good
Based on the book Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Now Is Good is the ultimate “bucket list” movie of a girl dying from leukaemia – a real tear-jerker, guaranteed to pull on the heartstrings of a vast socio-demographic audience.
Seventeen-year-old Tessa (Dakota Fanning) has been living with leukaemia for four years. The decision was made to stop all treatment that would have only bought Tessa a small amount of time; time that Tessa values too much to spend sick from the chemo. Instead, with the help of her “wild-child” best friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario), Tessa embarks on a journey fulfilling her wishes, not least of which is her desire to lose her virginity.
Despite the obvious heartbreaking under-current to this film, director Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) has brought Downham’s book to the screen with such innocence and realism that the humour exuding from the film is the type to warm the very soul; there are no cheap laughs or cheap moments to be found here!
Tessa’s father (Paddy Considine) is Tessa’s chief carer, although he takes his role a little too seriously for his daughter’s liking. This results in continuous rejection from Tessa as her dad tries to protect her and keep her safe, knowing that he is losing her far too quickly. Contrasting the father/daughter relationship is Tessa’s mother (Olivia Williams), who cuts quite a different parental figure – unable to make Tessa’s hospital appointments, and unreliable in general.
Both parents experience their own journeys of acceptance, proving that whatever the age, there is education to be learnt – a very touching element of the film.
The breath of fresh air throughout the film is Tessa’s younger brother, Cal (Edgar Canham), the absolute embodiment of childhood; Cal’s innocent chit-chatter provides a welcome relief for Tessa from her over-bearing, cancer-obsessive father. Cal’s naive association with the surrounding situation results in a few comical moments which ease and lift the imperious fate for Tessa.
The film’s emphasis is on Tessa’s desire to lose her virginity, and the granter of this particular wish is Tessa’s beautiful next door neighbour, Adam (Jeremy Irvine – Warhorse), with whom she falls in love. A broken spirit in his own right, Adam has already experienced loss before and is reluctant to engage in a relationship with Tessa for fear of losing her. However, Tessa brings Adam to life again, and living for the moment they throw caution to the wind.
Now Is Good relays emotions of a normal 17-year-old in that situation in a truly British fashion. Dry humour, the relationship between strength and vulnerability, the sense of inevitable loss, and the heart-warming feeling of love; Now Is Good has it all. Although this film will not leave the audience feeling good, where it triumphs is in the impact it will have on the audience, and in this era of a saturated film industry, a film that sticks with you is very successful indeed.
Watch the trailer here