Tessa (Fanning), 17, is dying of leukaemia and set on living her remaining life to the full. New boy-next-door Adam (Irvine) is on hand to help. Meanwhile Tessas father (Considine) worries and friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario) has her own issues.
Dakota Fanning goes British: it’s a bold move for both star and filmmakers in this tween weepie based on the novel Before I Die. Fanning’s accent is distractingly posh as she plays newly rebellious Tessa, a heroine who is intent on taking drugs, losing her virginity and generally cramming all her teen rebellion into the months of life she has left.
Still, it’s refreshing that this is no dying-girl schmaltzfest, at least in the party and drug-taking scenes. There’s a gently irreverent sense of humour pervading them as well as those with Olivia Williams, who plays Tessa’s Ab Fab mother, a free-thinking hedonist who takes an amusingly relaxed view of her daughter’s ambitions. More sceptical is Williams’ estranged husband, played straight by Paddy Considine as a furrowed-browed father who’d rather wrap his dying daughter in cotton wool than see her out drinking with friends.
Conveniently, a middle ground comes with the arrival of new neighbour Adam (War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine), a sensitive teenager who’s up for long walks and the long haul as well as popping Tessa’s cherry. Despite the odd wobble there’s something a little too virtuous about Adam: the romance is sweet but never feels sufficiently endangered by anything other than Tessa’s sadly inevitable death. And aside from her tragic fate, Tessa’s not an easy character to warm to: perhaps it’s the script, which fails to get under her skin, along with the nagging feeling that Fanning isn’t 100 per cent comfortable on British soil.
Now Is Good is perhaps most memorable in the brief but heart-wrenching hospital scenes: when Tessa’s warring parents quietly acknowledge each other’s strengths it’s moving and shows off the talents of the more experienced adult cast. For all the film’s flaws, moments like these can’t fail to hit you where it hurts.
Writer-director Ol Parker improves on dodgy lesbi-comedy Imagine Me & You with this uneven but ultimately effective weepie with terrific turns from Considine and Williams, who outshine the younger cast.