Dakota Fanning (The Twilight Saga, War of the Worlds) skips over the Atlantic and picks up a near perfect English accent on the way in this saccharine-light portrayal of a young girl looking to make the most of what is left of her short life.
Tessa (Fanning) is a normal seventeen year old, who does all the normal teenage stuff like fight with her parents and winding up her younger brother. Except Tessa has Leukaemia and has a short time to live.
So, having taken the choice to stop her treatment she makes a list of all the things she wants to do before she dies. For some of these she enlists the help of her friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario – Skins) such as dabbling with drugs and shoplifting, with mixed results.
Another big item on her list is to lose her virginity. Enter Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) as the sensitive boy-next-door Adam. Much to the chagrin of Tessa’s dad (an always excellent Paddy Considine) who has been Tessa’s main carer since her mother (an unusually blonde Olivia Williams) left the family home.
Tessa ignores her dad’s worries that Adam won’t be there for her when she’s near death and they continue to grow closer. Eventually Tess and Adam do sleep together but it was refreshing that the filmmakers steered clear of a soft focus portrayal and chose just to show the couple post-coital.
Death is never an easy subject matter to portray without straying into mawkish territory but ‘Now is Good’ pretty much pulls it off. Nobody, not even our dying heroine, is portrayed as perfect or saintly, just human with normal human foibles. Fanning is a strong lead and her performance makes up for a slightly moist one from Irvine. Saying that, together they make a sweet couple who you hope get to spend as much time together as they can.
The film is based on the novel ‘Before I die’ by Jenny Downham and with screenplay and direction by Ol Parker (screenplay writer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).
‘Now is Good’ is definitely a tearjerker (3OW was blubbing like a schoolgirl by the 87th minute), but one with a superb cast and plenty of lighter moments to make the film ultimately uplifting.
Out on DVD from 22nd February 2013.