Now and Then
Now and Then is an intriguing new series from Apple TV that follows a group of friends who are partying at the beach the night before their graduation when things take a turn for the worst as one of their own dies. 20 years later, the ones left are haunted by the events and the arrival of an unknown entity out to uncover the secrets of that night bring it to the surface again. The series oscillates between a camera recording of the past, and the present-day lives of the characters in question. These recordings become a bridge to even more nuanced flashbacks that further explain what happened before and after the death of Alejandro, adding puzzle pieces to the incomplete picture.
This style of storytelling utilises a lot of first person camerawork and tracking shots from behind individuals to really emphasise the narrow point of view the audience will initially have. The constant back-and-forth from past to present results in great visual transitions, as shaky and constant camera movements thrum nervous energy throughout. Heavily saturated lighting and high-contrast colour filters create even deeper shadows, exaggerating the dread among the five main characters.
While there’s an initial disconnect between the past and present selves of these characters, the clunky discrepancies and mischaracterisations become easier to understand as the series further develops the stories and personal struggles of the main five, as well as secrets separate from the tragedy. The absolute focus on detail aids in this regard, alongside well-hidden double entendres in the lines. This is especially the case for the younger and older actors of Marcos and Pedro. Rosie Perez is back in her detective role from Pineapple Express and Birds of Prey; here, in particular, her chemistry and dynamic with Željko Ivanek is very entertaining and adds a little bit of light to the very heavy premise.
Now and Then has a lot of intricate world-building. The series uses specific sets and locations to create lucid visuals of the characters’ memories. These, in turn, create parallels between certain scenes, with ironic results. The mix of old technology, such as cassette tapes, and new technology like modern-day phone screens, helps to highlight the gap in 20 years, which creates a trajectory of development for the characters. It’s this mindful weaving of different parts and subtle elements that truly makes Now and Then a compelling and thrilling watch.
Now and Then is released on Apple TV+ on 20th May 2022.
Watch the trailer for Now and Then here: