Tessa (Dakota Fanning) is just like every other teenager, she likes boys, loves fashion, and strives to be older than her years. Tessa has a wish list, a whole range of things she wants to do before she dies, from riding on an elephant in India, to shoplifting, and losing her virginity. Tessa’s list is more pertinent than most girls though, because Tessa’s days are numbered. A few months back Tessa opted to stop taking the treatment in an attempt to keep her terminal Leukemia at bay, she is in her final months and wants to make the most of every day.
Now Is Good is a much overdue movie that addresses the issue of young people dying of cancer, a topic in the movie world that is often pushed aside; and when it is it just romanticizes death. Based on the novel Before I Die by Jenny Downham, this adaptation for the screen by acclaimed screenplay writer Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who also directs the movie, this is a tale that tells the process of dying, and it pulls no punches in doing so. With the obvious much needed emission of those final moment, Fanning’s character goes right through the ringer, including massive nasal hemorrhaging.
The casting of the ultra-talented is an unusual one, for this is a very British movie, and she is a very American actress. But Fanning upon hearing the movie was in production fought long and hard for the role of the terminal ill Tessa, even though there was little or no money involved. Ever the perfectionist Fanning spent considerable time learning the English accent, and about terminal illness at the same time, and it has to be said she pulls a blinder in the movie.
There are some excellent supporting roles from Jeremy Irvine (Warhorse), Olivia Williams (An Education), Kaya Scodelario (Skins) and an extraordinary heartbreaking performance of Paddy Considine as Tessa’s father. Much effort has been put into the movie to ensure you know the characters as best you can, the same effort ensures you also like those same characters.
The biggest achievement of Now Is Good is that it tugs right at your heartstrings, this is a movie that will certainly bring even men close to tears, Ol Parker defies convention at aims this at an audience rather than just the female members of that audience. The tale starts working on your emotions from fairly early on, most notably the point that Tessa reaches the point of no return in respect of treating her illness.
Now Is Good may not be a new idea in the world of movie making, but it does sit in a fairly empty genre, as a result it creates a heartwarming, heartbreaking story that will keep you addicted from the moment Lana Del Rey starts singing during the opening credits, to the point the screen fades to black.
Now is Good is in UK cinemas from September 19th.
Catch Spencer Hawken's transcript of an interview with Ol Parker here within the next few days.