After recently watching Jonathan Levine’s 50/50, I discovered my emotions have a susceptible weakness to movies based on cancer. Whether because it is an illness likely to affect us all in some way at some point or whether I’m just an overly sensitive chap, I’m not sure. Upon seeing Now is Good however, the latest film from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel scriber Ol Parker, both were well and truly confirmed as any shred of masculine bravado I may have had was left in a pool of tears on the cinema carpet. Yes, Parker’s beautiful yet bittersweet tale of youthful romance and loss made me bawl…with volume.
Adapted from Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die, Tessa Scott (Dakota Fanning) is a teenager on the cusp of adulthood until a losing battle with leukaemia inspires her to make a list of things to do before passing away. Quite a depressing sounding story really, but Parker actually manages to craft a surprisingly uplifting and comedic tale via Erik Wilson’s beautiful cinematography, superlative acting and an exquisitely gorgeous soundtrack despite it initially appearing like Oscar baiting pap.
According to Parker, Dakota Fanning was desperate to land the role despite his initial apprehension. A meeting with the Director however, convinced him otherwise and she arguably gives the performance of her career in a role that is a far departure from her usual comfort zone. Fanning is simply stunning; strong-willed, confident and above all brave, she brings everything to a character that, on occasion, isn’t even overly likeable. It is this battle with your perception of how someone with a terminal illness should act that gives justification for such high praise for both her, and Ol Parker’s script. There’s none of this “little annoying American girl” that has been the unfortunate staple of her career thus far, so it’s quite surprising to see her on par alongside British thesps such as Olivia Williams and Paddy Considine. There are of course a fair few moments of half-baked sappiness, mostly coming from boy next door, and inevitable love interest, Adam (Jeremy Irvine), but it’s the relationship with her Father, played by the ever reliable and always incredible Paddy Considine, where the film is at it’s most poignant. Seeing a single Father clearly struggling to come to terms with the foreseeable loss of his daughter is truly heart breaking and Considine gives a supremely stirring performance. Even if you’re not a fan of films of this ilk, his presence alone is an undoubted plus point.
The youthful and honest British-ness of the film makes it endearing despite being a blatant early entrant for next years award season. Its setting of Brighton is as much a star as it’s exceptional cast, with Erik Wilson’s visual exploration along England’s coastline a continually picturesque affair when coupled with the serenely beautiful soundtrack.
It’s obviously not a film that the “lads” will want to see, but when a film successfully wrestles with your emotions on such a scale, then it must be deemed a success, despite being marketed as a film for the ladies.
Now is Good is release nationwide on the 19th of September…you’ll need the Kleenex though, lots and lots of Kleenex.