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In my opinion, this movie deserves 10 out of 10. Some reviews say that Dakota Fanning's portrayal of a terminally ill teenager with cancer wasn't 'convincing' however, I beg to differ. The personality Dakota derived for 'Tessa' is just perfect. She's angry and sarcastic, rude to her loved ones and doesn't let any one in. Her take on playing this role was just fantastic. You believe she's ill because of how she acts, not because of how many times they remind you she's dying, how many days she has left, her short hair and her pale appearance; those aspects just add to the character. This movie is being compared to 'A walk to remember' which, I can see the resemblance to of course; but this film isn't just about a bucket list or romance or just about cancer; it's about how it can make the individual person suffering really feel. I can't really explain in words why I thought it was so good. I just know that I was in tears at the end and I'm not usually one for crying at movies. I think it was seeing that hard shelled character Tessa eventually breakdown at the end after seeing her hold it in for so long. The realisation that she was dying is something that I felt the audience connect to. When the nurse explained what it would feel like to die over the course of the next few days to Fanning's character 'Tessa', you could hear a pin drop. It was perfect, realistic and Dakota was phenomenal. I also am proud that this film was a British production. After hearing Dakota's British accent in the trailer, I was a little worried that it would be hard to bare whilst watching the film, however, it was well spoken on her part and I thought she did an excellent job. I really did like this film. The casting was fantastic and so was the characterisation and family dynamic. It was great to see a typical teenagers response to leukaemia. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Please go and see it whilst it's in cinemas. I'm definitely buying this on DVD. (:
"Our life is a series of moments
let them go
I don't need to go into my decreasing expectation of Dakota Fanning movies as I tend to do it with each of her movies since around 2007 needless to say, I likely wouldn't have been rushing to see this one which from the outside appears as yet another not-even-Oscar-baiting cancer pity porn story (if you'll excuse the extreme shorthand) with the added "oh no " factor of Fanning doing her best English accent to boot*. But I got free tickets, and who was I to pass up my first chance to see one of my (despite everything, still) favourite actresses on the big screen for the first time since 2005?
The by-the-numbers story here has Fanning as Tessa, who is dying of leukaemia, has passed the point of expecting treatment to help, and wants to get a few things done before she goes. This in itself, of course, does not an enriching 90 minutes make (not for me, anyway). But while there's certainly a few bad clichés of this kind of story in here (and one particularly awful moment I shall just say "sweetcorn" ), the reason Now Is Good continued to pull me in is because of this light of a character at its core.
As I said I was worried I'd be adding this movie to a long list of recent Dakota Fanning movies (okay, mainly the Twilight movies) that lead me to ask, frustrated, "what are you doing, Dakota?" but you can see why she was drawn to this one, despite any of its leanings toward cliché. Tessa responds to the generic way the world usually deals with terminal illness in the same way I always imagine I would (yes I'll it admit it I imagine it enough to be able to say such a thing, lol, now who's pitying?), and I connected to her fast the way her face lights up the moment she spots a hint of mischief in a person, such as when her brother asks at the breakfast table (much to their father's dismay), "when Tessa dies can we go on holiday?" or how she talks back to her doctor ("Good girl." "Would you like to slap my rump? then stop talking to me like a horse ") She really doesn't want any pity, for herself or anyone (as she says to her love towards the end, "Don't you dare expect me to feel sorry for you because you get left behind, don't you f-ing dare!") but she certainly doesn't deny the creeping darkness of her imminent death either.
There's a ropey segment in which Tessa and her friend go on an attempted crime spree in a shopping centre that smacks awfully of a teen movie cliché I thought long-since past, and the aforementioned unbelievable attempt to cut through one of the movie's most horrific glimpses of disease with the comedy of "sweetcorn" but even these lows are ultimately countered by terrific performance, not just from Fanning but from the support cast including Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams (both of whom, post-sweetcorn scene, share the best non-Fanning scene in the movie, as she asks him, "Can I stay?"). There are lesser clichés that also ring less hokey for the same reasons, such as Fanning enjoying an air tunnel type ride (her face in this scene is too beautiful to even consider being cynical), a stolen kiss under fireworks, and the horses that ride past at the end but by that point I was so in love with Tessa they could have played in "This Woman's Work" or "Fields of Gold" over such imagery and still not offended me it really is her most unforgettable role since Man on Fire for me.
* the accent work is fantastic, if you must know I really didn't want to mention it in my review though, because everybody will it's the flawless, clipped, but not necessarily authentic to the character, kind most American actresses manage but like those minor clichés, by around midway it's the last thing on your mind.
** PS. There's some interesting use of Nine Lives footage (at least I think it's that movie), of a younger Fanning climbing a tree, that I just found interesting and felt worth mentioning it was slightly jarring to me but I imagine even fewer people saw that movie than will see this one lol. At least it connects to something in this movie, anyway, another beautiful scene of tree climbing. ** EDIT I asked the director about this and he said they shot all of the stuff at the end themselves so I guess I was wrong, it just looked very familiar to me :)
Likely too many potential viewers will see this exquisite little film
as just another Bucket List movie, but nothing could be further from
the truth. Adapted by Director/Screenwriter Ol Parker form Jenny
Downham's novel 'Before I Die', the film deals with delicate issues in
a mature way and allows the emotional aspect of the film's theme to
soar into that realm of films that deal with death in an honest and
Tessa Scott (Dakota Fanning in a miraculous performance with a perfect British accent!) is diagnosed with leukemia. Despite her four-year devotion to chemotherapy she has discovered that her cancer is terminal and her doctors don't give her very long to live. Tessa with the help of her best friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario) comes up with a list of things she wants to do before she dies, including some risky behaviors that she deems necessary to have "lived". Tessa's dad (Paddy Considine) is resistant to Tessa's behavior from the start but realizes he has little influence and can only enjoy the time they have left. Best friend Zoey is excited and supportive of the outrageous bucket list until an unplanned pregnancy test comes up positive. Tessa's parents are divorced and have very different views on her desire to experience the dangerous side of life before she passes. Her mother (Olivia Williams) simply cannot deal with the diagnosis and copes by distancing herself from Tessa's activities and is more or less absentee in her role as a mother. Her father's main mechanism for coping is denial. Tessa mentions that he spends hours on the computer looking up possible treatments for her even after the doctors have told her that the cancer has consumed her body. Tessa's little brother Cal (Edgar Canham) is a brutally honest individual that has mixed feelings ranging from lack of care to jealousy to sadness. In the beginning of the novel Cal says to his sister "I'm gonna miss you" during a joking situation. One of Tessa's last wishes is to find love, of which she thinks she has with her neighbor Adam (Jeremy Irvine whose performance here is as fine as his War Horse role). Adam is shy and his main priority is taking care of his sickly mother after their father died. But Tessa's gradually breaks through Adam's fears and the two fall in love, Adam promising to stay with Tessa until the end. The film follows her last few months of life, explores her relationships with her loved ones, and her personal feelings about being trapped in a failing body. The film is tenderly brought to a credible and touching close - everyone has grown to appreciate that 'now is good'.
Dakota Fanning rises to new heights in her sensitive portrayal and her skills are matched by inimitable performances by Paddy Considine, Olivia Williams, Jeremy Irvine, Kaya Scodelario and a superb supporting cast. This is a very beautiful film that begs to be seen and understood. Never sanguine, it is just an honest piece of life - and death.
American Dakota Fanning leads the cast in this British production about
a teen terminally ill from leukemia who wants to crowd all she can in
the months or maybe weeks she has remaining. Prominent on the list is
that she wants to lose her virginity.
Bring some industrial strength Kleenex to the theater because you'll need it. Fanning gives a sincere and somewhat restrained performance considering the circumstances. Her parents Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams also do well.
If I was going to have a first and last love I couldn't do much better than young James Irvine who scored very big Steven Spielberg's The War Horse. He's the perfect handsome and sensitive youth that anyone would fall for. His role is a supporting one, yet you'll remember him as much as you do Fanning.
Although her British accent could have used some improvement and I suspect that she was cast so that the film could draw some dollars in the American market, Fanning is just fine in the role. You'll not soon forget her in Now Is Good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much out of this film when I decided
to watch it. I'm happy to say I assumed wrong.
Dakota Fanning's depiction of Tessa was incredible, I don't care what anyone says, not all cancer patients try to be positive and brave. The fact of the matter is Tessa is a dying teenage girl, she doesn't have much time left and it's not fair, anyone that can say that a cancer patient wouldn't act the way she did obviously hasn't met terminally ill teenagers.
Paddy Considine also delivered a powerful performance, a particular scene that really got to me was when he broke down in front of Tessa crying and begging her not to die, it was amazing acting and my heart was wrenching by the end of it.
All in all the acting was superb and the story was amazing. Through out the film you have a lingering sense of hope and yet you also have a feeling of melancholy knowing that Tessa's probably not going to make it.
I highly recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
17 year old Brighton girl Tessa, dying of leukaemia, has a list of
things to try to do before her time is up. This doesn't include falling
in love with the son of the new people next door, but life plays
strange tricks even when there is so little left of it.
Dakota Fanning, stellar as a child actor, faces the same problem all child actors face as they move into adulthood. After variable levels of success with Jumper and the Twilight films, Now Is Good provides an excellent transitional vehicle for her. The story is simple - a bucket list of ambitions, some of them questionable, undertaken by an ordinary middle class English girl whose anger at her fate is somewhat ameliorated by unexpectedly finding love with the boy next door.
This story is delivered well (with one or two minor mis-steps on the way) by an excellent cast. Fanning shows that her undeniable acting talent has remained with her through adolescence: Tessa is a very believable character. Jeremy Irvine makes the rather thankless role of love interest Adam into a rounded, likable young man, Kaya Scodelario is good as best friend Zoey (with problems of her own), and Olivia Williams makes Tessa's fairly rubbish mother a good deal more sympathetic than she perhaps deserves to be.
But Paddy Considine, as Tessa's father, shows us a man trying to balance dealing with the practicalities of his daughter's illness, trying to be a normal father in circumstances which are far from normal, remembering that he also has a son, and holding himself together in the certainty of his firstborn's imminent death. It is an immense performance; I doubt I will see a better one this year. There were tears from the audience and mine, as a father, were for him.
My sole reservation was that, with the exception of one scene where Tessa gets a nosebleed, it all seemed rather (and I hate to use the word) nice. Though Fanning has an interesting and attractive face, she will never be easily pigeon-holed as conventionally pretty, yet her illness and decline were never ugly. That was not enough to spoil a rather good, if small, film though.
Oh, and yes, her English accent was flawless. I expected nothing less.
We all know death is the only certain thing that will happen to us. But
the thought of living everyday as it were our last is probably taken
seriously only by those with an expiration date on their backs.
"Now Is Good" is a compelling drama that raises those questions about how you would plan your remaining days when all you can do is wait for the final curtain. Dakota Fanning is an amazing young actress who can light up the room and yet bring tears to your eyes on a story that moves and inspires. It is many times depressing but also full of life, where the main characters depict so well how everyone around the patient suffers from different angles, ironically making the terminally ill seem stronger than everybody else. Beautiful. *** Director: Ol Parker
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A 16 year old girl who knows that she will die of leukemia, and there
is nothing that anybody can do about it at all. What could possibly be
worse than that?
In the film, "Now Is Good," this is what we are confronted with. For many years with millions of others, I have watched Dakota Fanning literally grow up on screen. I know that in this film she is an actress playing a character, but that doesn't necessarily make this film that much easier to watch. She is a very good actress, and in this film I was very surprised: She is not the typical movie character that faces this catastrophe with an unflinching smile, who is ready to take that long walk in to the abyss like a true hero. Her character is HUMAN......and at times her short lived, permanent dilemma makes her angry, confused, anxious, and a myriad of many emotions that only she can cover in this film. It makes her act out with some of the things that she wants to do on her bucket list that no young person should ever have to write.
In this film Dakota's character Tessa is English with a perfect English accent to top off her whole performance. When I discovered that, I asked myself why they just did not get an English actress to play the role. Ten minutes in to this film, I had my answer. This is an astonishing performance by our National Treasure, Dakota who is now just barely a post-kid. This may be her finest film statement so far. It is a Dakota Fanning tour de force. I could easily see her getting a nomination for an Academy Award for this, but now we know that did not happen. The great thing about this film, and the performance is that at no time did I feel manipulated. I never felt like it's goal was to make the viewer cry like so many similar ones. It is not a, "Tear Jerker" in that regard. Sometimes the burst of emotions that a film can produce are not necessarily intended. It just naturally happens. That is why in a film with a performance like this one, that emotional break happens so easily. At least it did for me.
"Death Be Not Proud." So many things in life are not fair......and so it is with The Academy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What makes you think "Now is Good"? ....
Either when you are on a damn good holiday, or when you realize your days are up. This movie is about the second scenario.
So 17-year-old Tessa knows her fate, right at the beginning of the movie. What would a girl at her age do? - Being a rebel, Breaking the world's system and order, doing all crazy stuff a teenager is supposed to do...until she meets her true love. Towards the end her to-do-list contains two extra wishes: being with her true love until the end of her day, and witnessing the birth of her friend's child. The first wish is granted by the maturing boyfriend (as the relationship develops), the second wish, may have been granted in the good dreams before death.
The climax heart-breaking moment for me comes at the moment when Tessa learns about her cancer spending and finds out about her boyfriend being off to college opening day. Poor girl is confronted with the threaten of death, as well as the (temporary)loss of her love on the same day. Fortunately for her although death is inevitable, the boyfriend does return in the end, takes good care of her for a few days and accompanies her till the last minute. This makes it a "happy ending" for a story which could have been more sad.
What I feel could be improved is the romance part. The boy's hesitation and struggle to stay in a relationship that is without much prospect, as real as it is, could have been fleshed out a bit more. All the way through it feels as if Tessa has been holding her boyfriend's hand along the love journey, and demanding the boyfriend to grow up. There's no much showing from the boyfriend's perspective - What prompts his growth? How did he handle with his inner good-evil fight? Definitely thumbs-up for the roles of Tessa and her father - splendid and convincing performance. Tessa's mum is also a highlight in this movie, I find her very impressive and her change in attitude towards Tessa very convincing. However I still couldn't understand why Tessa's mum is being so cold at the beginning - is sickie Tessa the reason why mum divorces dad? (They seem not to be living together any more).
I must say the tag-line doesn't come close to doing this film justice.
There is so much more to it a thoughtful, uplifting story about a
difficult subject. This is without doubt the best film about dying I've
ever seen. If you're a softy then it's a two-box tissue weepy but in no
way is this film ever depressing. It's a little sugary at times but on
the whole a nice balance is struck between dealing with the sadness of
death and the joy of life. The writing and direction are spot-on, and
the performances are without exception faultless. It's heartening
without being sentimental, funny without being glib.
I should reveal I am Fanning's number one fan and also at times her harshest critic. I have a love-hate relationship with her, having watched her develop from the most amazing child actor of all time into what can appear at times a rather lack-lustre adult performer with a dubious choice of off-set professional partnerships. However my opinion of late has changed and I've come to the conclusion Dakota is simply and pleasantly naive in many ways - and I mean that in the nicest possible way; she has a certain innocent charm that most young people today seem to be devoid of, and I mention it only because this role seemed tailor-made for her, and perhaps because I understand her better as an actor and as a person now.
OK so the English accent was not perfect - it fluctuated a little and sounded much better when she was being loud and emotional; a little too 1950s prim-and-proper at other times. Kids in England tend not to speak like that now, but to her credit there was never the slightest hint of the native Georgian-cum-West Coast burr. I'd also take issue with the hair stylist that issued what was presumably a wig, the first of the two styles in the movie looked quite dreadful and unrealistic. Later on we see her with medium-length hair which actually looked natural and quite suits her slightly boyish features.
The art of Fanning is however in the subtlety of her performances these days - possibly an antidote to the oft-maligned enthusiasm of her early career, or maybe just a result of thoughtful maturity and trying harder to look natural. For me it didn't quite work in The Runaways (although that still remains my favourite Dakota film) but it fits perfectly the role of Tessa Scott. If you take the time to watch this film alone and study Tessa closely, you will hopefully appreciate the performance as I do.
As a fan I could happily waffle on all day about Dakota, but I have to say there wasn't a duff performance in this movie. All the actors played perfectly, especially Paddy Considine who gives the under-stated performance of his life. He also gets some of the best lines, maybe not enough of them, but I have to say he was an inspired choice for Tessa's dad and I have a new respect for him as an actor. Irvine, Williams, little Edgar Canham, delicious Kaya Scodelario, Dr Wadham - they all deserve the accolades.
This is British story-telling at its best, a knack we've lost in recent years as American and European films have shone in that department. Don't be put off by the subject matter - this is a film that might just change your view of life and death. As Tessa says, "Life is a series of moments". Think about what that means for all of us and enjoy this film.
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