If you want your heart broken between sobbing your tear ducts dry and flurries of laughter, Now is Good is perfect viewing.
Dakota Fanning plays Tessa, a 17-year-old Brighton-ite dying from a form of leukaemia, who is desperate to lose her virginity, break the law and have her name written on the world. Writer and director Ol Parker’s script tracks her last months as she tumbles through her bucket list, making things up and worrying everyone as she goes along.
Olivia Williams takes an inspired turn as Tessa’s rather useless but charming mother and also nabs most of the best lines (“I know the smell of rubber is off-putting, but so is gonorreah,”) while Paddy Considine roams the film as Tessa’s overprotective and agonised father. You are advised to pack a family-sized box of tissues for his scenes alone.
But, as Tessa so bluntly puts it, her parents are not what she needs, so in swoop Zoey (Kaya Scodelario), Tessa’s shroom and shoplifting partner in crime and Adam, a pained looking Jeremy Irvine riding a sunset friendly motorbike.
The realities of dying from leukaemia – the hospital appointments, the exhaustion, the hurt and the inevitability – slink alongside the whirlwind of first love and the trials of trying to live life to the fullest.
A blur of salty beach trips and climbing escapades (up trees, through windows, over cliffs) pull Tessa and Adam together, showing off the melancholy beauty of Brighton in the process. The rickety, candy rock laden pier becomes almost as vital as the ethereal Dakota, complete with her fairly convincing English accent.
Bittersweet but funny with it (particularly thanks to Tessa’s adorably pragmatic little brother: “You can haunt me, I don’t mind”), Now is Good will yank on your heart strings but avoids being too saccharine and depressing. In fact, it is quite hopeful.
Words: Ella Walker