Tessa (Dakota Fanning) is dying. She has come to terms with the fact, and is determined to live her life while she’s still here, even if her father (Paddy Considine) would rather she stay home and spend her last days on the couch with him.
Adapted from Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die, it is clear from the premise that Now is Good is going to be a tearjerker, and jerk tears it does. Dakota Fanning has been absent from our screens since The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in 2010, but it seems that she has been spending her time becoming a rather mature actress. Yes, she only has one or two emotions; angry and cheeky or sweet and sad, but this works for the character, and gone is the whiny kid we were subjected to in War of the Worlds and the like.
Paddy Considine plays Tessa’s father, a man devastated by the impending death of his baby girl, who throws himself into the business of her cancer and seems unable to accept that she wants to live the final weeks she has left. Considine is wonderful, as usual, and it is his grief that packs the strongest emotional punch throughout the film. Tessa’s mother, played by Olivia Williams, is the opposite of her father; this is a woman who finds the prospect of Tessa’s death devastating, but deals with it in the opposite way to Considine’s character, and vanishes. Williams is strong and engaging throughout the film, even if her wig is incredibly distracting and makes her look rather strange.
Jeremy Irvine plays Adam, the love interest. Adam lives next door to Tessa and just so happens to fulfil her need of losing her virginity, but also offers a shoulder for her to lean on and is an all-round perfect, good looking guy. Convenient. Kaya Scodelario plays Tessa’s best friend Zoey, and while she is a force for change in the young girl’s life, she conveniently disappears once Adam comes on the scene. Edgar Canham is great as Tessa’s little brother who offers throwaway lines that underline the permanence of what is happening with his lack of understanding.
Writer / director Ol Parker has taken a story of someone working through their bucket list and made is somewhat endearing. The story drags out a little too long and, for someone who is fulfilling their dying wishes, Tessa seems a little too preoccupied with finding love, but each of the cast give strong performances and the seaside town of Brighton has never looked better.
Now is Good is the perfect movie to watch when you have worn out your copy of The Notebook; the story is sweet and filled with doomed romance, although it is a little drawn out and, at times, mawkish. Dakota Fanning gives one of the most mature and understated performances of her career, and Paddy Considine is sure to tug on your heartstrings. This is nothing that we have not seen before – Death of a Superhero comes to mind – but Now is Good is pretty and heart warming and sometimes, that’s all you want.