Ol Parker follows up 2005’s Imagine Me & You with Now Is Good (2012), the tale of a young girl, Tessa (Dakota Fanning), who is dying of terminal leukaemia. With her treatment failing, Tessa decides to create a bucket-list, the top priority being to lose her virginity to the man of her dreams. Yet her separated parents, played by much-lauded Brits Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams, are complete polar opposites in coming to terms with their daughter’s impending death, threatening to scupper Tessa’s final wishes.
Tessa’s mother (Williams) acts with a staunch denial of the events, failing to make hospital appointments and refusing to accept the grim reality of the situation. Her father (Considine), equally in denial, is a classic overbearing father, frantically scouring the internet in the misguided hope of a cure for his daughter. Then there is Tessa herself – a petulant teen if ever there was one – who rebels against her parents’ coping mechanisms and finds some hope and solace in the arms of handsome teen, Adam (Jeremy Irvine).
With Now Is Good, Parker has admirably attempted to inject some depth and complexity into this scenario, yet ultimately he falls prey to saccharine cliches that weakly pull at the heartstrings. When a person discovers that someone has been diagnosed with a terminal illness there is obviously – and very naturally – a great sense of sadness. Parker, however, treats the subject in a purely exploitative manner, his only minor success being the ability to create a totally unsympathetic cancer victim who the audience may well struggle to pity.
Rather than let the emotion, sadness and sense of tragic loss inherent within a films such as Now Is Good speak volumes, Parker seems to have felt that more emotional impact was perhaps needed. A particularly nauseating scene sees Tessa and Adam driving on a motorbike past a herd of running horses as the sun sets behind them – a twee, laughable moment that saps any sense of tragedy from the tale. This is but one example of the poor attempts made by Parker to tell a story that should already be emotive and heartbreaking enough.
Worse still, a tagged on anti-abortion subplot feels like a particularly cheap shot at the ‘Right to Life’ argument, showing at best a callow understanding of such an important issue. It’s perhaps telling that Parker has also managed to make two well-respected and loved actors (Considine and Williams) into one-dimensional, dull performers. To be avoided at all costs, Now Is Good is in fact far from good, but instead a tiresome, often appalling drama with little or no honesty or tact.