“When Tessa dies, can we go on holiday?”
Now is Good is a remarkably clear-eyed entry into the teen weepie genre, based on Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die. Ol Parker’s film centres on Tessa, a girl dying of leukaemia but who has put together a bucket list to ensure she enjoys every last moment. Chief among these is losing her virginity and falling in love, giving the story its main thrust, but more moving is Tessa’s relationships with her family and friends and even with herself as the inevitable comes ever closer.
Dakota Fanning is the sole US interloper in what is otherwise a very British film but her strong and sarcastic performance and the mordant strain of humour – mainly delivered by Edgar Canham’s younger brother Cal – keeps the sentimentality from overwhelming much of the story. Jeremy Irvine’s Adam is a more interesting love interest than one might expect and the delicacy of their emotional journey is well-handled throughout.
Olivia Williams and Paddy Considine as her two totally contrasting (and divorced) parents are superb though, both failing to deal with the reality of their dying daughter in different ways and utterly convincing in suggesting the complexity of their shared history. It is Fanning’s film though, imbuing Tessa with an almost scornful attitude towards anyone offering her pity or condescension as she seizes control of what is left of her life. Somewhat better than you might think.