Based on the novel Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Now is Good is the latest, excuse the label, 'cancer drama' that hits us square in the gut, paralleling that of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, though British-based with an young American actress at its core.
Tessa wants to live her life to the full, even more so now she's diagnosed with cancer and has, for a number of years, had to live with the consequences and the harsh treatments. Preferring a short life lived to the full rather than a prolonged life under intense treatment, Tessa declines the next stages of chemo and instead decides to do the things she feels every teenager must do before they die, thus goes by a list she concocts against her father's wishes.
What she doesn't count on, however, are the little things, the things she doesn't think she'll miss or achieve in such a short time, but instead finds herself completely in the wrong. With the help of the new boy next door, Adam, she finds new meaning in her remaining time.
The outcome is inevitable, yet we refuse it to ourselves over and over again. And so, Now is Good is a determined watch, one that defies all sense of the human emotion. You may even find yourself inconsolable -- i'm not owning up to anything. And saying that, does that mean Now is Good gets it right? Is it truly a faithful adaptation of a novel i've never heard of yet can guarantee is just like the rest of its kind?
First and foremost is Dakota Fanning; the typical American teenager with acting chops to boot, seen most recently in the closing chapter of the Twilight Saga or in Sundance with Elizabeth Olsen. What she does get expertly, however, is something that parallels a chameleon. She's superb with characters, and not only adapts but owns the role. Here, she's a British teenager. Clothing, attitude and all, she nails it right on the head. A careless attitude is exuded by Tessa as she weaves through understandably horrid circumstances, all the while attempting to survive sex, first loves, family drama, friends, pregnancies, drugs, shop lifting and of course the cancer itself. It's a rush for her, and whilst time is limited, the writing never loses plot of what Tessa, or any regular teenager, would deem an important ritual into teenage life.
War Horse's Jeremy Irvine enters and Tessa immediately catches his eye. Foremost hesitant falls down to the knees when an honest, intensely likeable relationship strikes between the two stars, both relatable and real, and all the more heartbreaking. Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams are the bickersome parentals who're on two separate paths; one too caring and considerate of everything to do with the sickness, the other barely manages a trip to the hospital. Considine, a firm favourite of the Brits, is an outstanding and brutally emotional addition to a supporting cast that ranges from the inconspicuous to the important.
Ol Parker respectfully balances between a blatant emotional core that creates a heartbreaking backbone that Now is Good stands firm on. What induces this further is a performance that Fanning should be proud of, a story that, while been done to death, feels as natural as the real thing, and come the end leaves you lip-quivering and battered, almost to the point where you can easily wonder if this was one of your family members, what the hell would you actually do?
Verdict: Amidst an outstanding core performance, Now is Good will shatter every remnant of your soul, heart and every being. It's wonderfully written and undeniably uplifting, but at the forefront poignance is its game.