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|Now Is Good|
dir-scr Ol Parker
prd Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin
with Dakota Fanning, Jeremy Irvine, Paddy Considine, Olivia Williams, Kaya Scodelario, Edgar Canham, Joe Cole, Julia Ford, Julian Wadham, Josef Altin, Rakie Ayola, Patrick Baladi
release UK 21.Sep.12
12/UK BBC 1h43
Face the future: Irvine and Fanning
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Novelist Jenny Downham seems to be Britain's answer to Nicholas Sparks, as this film based on her novel Before I Die mercilessly targets girls in their early teens with a weepy story of young love and imminent gloom. Older audiences may want to stay away.
At 17, Tessa (Fanning) is well-known in her English seaside-town as a brave leukaemia patient. And now she's opted out of treatment, which leaves her father (Considine) worried, her mother (Williams) more flustered than usual and her younger brother (Canham) already planning life without her. What no one knows is that she has a secret wish-list, and her pal Zoey (Scodelario) is helping her find drugs, sex, petty crime and other things. Then Tessa meets new neighbour Adam (Irvine), a sensitive soul trying to cope with grief of his own.
Yes, this film combines terminal illness with doomed love, and writer-director Parker sets the emotions soaring from the start. There's barely a throwaway moment, as every scene is wilfully funny, strained or melodramatic, exactly on schedule. Which doesn't leave the actors with much to do beyond gazing on Tessa wistfully while she stares into the gauzy middle distance with her iridescent blue eyes.
Fanning drifts through the film like a zombie, which may be appropriate but leaves the film stilted and dull. It doesn't help that Parker wimps out from depicting her desire to live her remaining months to the full: all she seems to do is walk slowly and aimlessly. Not much living, really. Opposite her, the charming Irvine smiles endlessly in her presence. Williams finds a few moments of dramatic power along the way, while Considine is convincing as the concerned, overprotective dad (although he's less believable when emotionally overwrought).
Parker films this in an over-lit, soft-focus style that relentlessly plays up the gooey sentiment. It's skilfully shot and edited, but is so soporific that it refuses to ever spring to life, leaving poor Tessa to meander through her final year without much excitement or energy beyond an adorable beach-day montage. And by the time the tone switches from soppy to maudlin, most viewers will already feel so queasy that it won't matter much. But the teen girls in the audience will be inconsolable.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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