‘Now is Good’ is the story of a 17 year old British girl, Tessa, who is dying of leukaemia and wishes to complete a list of experiences before she passes away. The film is based on the novel titled ‘Before I Die’, written by Jenny Downham.
Prior to watching, I had misgivings. Could Dakota Fanning (aka whiny girl “Rachel” from “War of the Worlds” and strange and freaky vampiress “Jane”, from the “Twilight” saga) really pull off portraying a terminally ill British teen? BBC Films typically show us “raw” Britain, so Dakota would not only have to master the accent, but also perfect terminology, mannerisms and that very British quirkiness – which, in all truth, not many American actors/actresses have been able to accomplish.
It turned out that I wasn’t the only sceptic; Director, Ol Parker, also stated that Dakota wasn’t his first choice to play the leading lady, but her dedication and perseverance impressed him so much that he gave her a shot. Thankfully, Miss Fanning was phenomenally convincing in her role as “Tessa” and for that I think she deserves some serious recognition.
‘Now Is Good’ separates itself from most other releases at the moment, as it isn’t a huge Hollywood Action Blockbuster with an eye-wateringly large budget and it’s also a difficult movie to categorise. It would be easy but unfair to label it a tragedy, as it would detract from the irrefutably positive messages.
Similarly, the script itself prevents the abiding impression from simply being a ‘downer’ – so I suppose tragi-comedy is quite an accurate description.
Fantastic lines such as Tessa’s “Would you like to slap my rump?”…“Then stop talking to me as if I were a horse” resulted in a roar of laughter that echoed around the auditorium. Also, the use of bluntness when writing for Tessa’s 9 year-old brother ‘Cal’ (played by Edgar Canham) was highly effective. One notable point, was when Cal was sat with Tessa and their father and blurted out, “Dad, when Tessa dies, can we go on holiday?” – got to love kids eh!
I mustn’t fail to mention that despite ‘Now Is Good’ being given a 12A certification, there is some use of bad language, discussion of drugs and also a few somewhat shocking scenes. The book was written as a novel for ‘young adults’ and I, perhaps, feel that the BBFC should have rated it as a 15.
There are two scenes, in particular, that may make a younger audience more than wince; firstly, the removal of the catheter and secondly, the ‘nose’ scene. I’m not overly squeamish, but I found the latter particularly difficult to watch, as it makes you realise what some cancer sufferers really go through. I suppose that such scenes are part of what makes the film a success; it doesn’t pussyfoot around a difficult topic, but instead tackles any misconceptions and conveys how all parties deal with it. Adam, for example, states that he’s not sure if he can ‘deal with it’ if Tessa dies and her father tries to cling on to all her possessions. Tessa, on the other hand, tries to put the ordeal to the back of her mind by living life to the full and accomplishing a series of goals, some of which, such as” take drugs” are not always seen as positive examples for a teen’s “bucket list!”
All in all, “Now Is Good” offers us a realistic insight into how someone, who we typically wouldn’t think to be cancer stricken, deals with such an incomprehensible scenario. Shocking, witty, down right funny, blunt, thought-provoking and terribly sad, this film will expose you to every emotion under the sun and no matter what age or gender you are, you ought to take at least one box of tissues with you.
Now is Good is released in the UK on 19th September 2012