2012 Running time: 99 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Hankies at the ready for this British love story starring American starlet Dakota Fanning as Tessa, a Brighton teenager dying of leukaemia. Leaving her dad (Paddy Considine) to do the worrying, Tessa compiles list of things to do before she dies. Her best friend (Skins star Kaya Scodelario) can assist with a few items, but not when it comes to the big one: losing her virginity. Perhaps the sensitive hunk next door (Jeremy Irvine) can help? Writer-director Ol Parker tries to look on the bright side by throwing the odd chuckle to stem the sniffles.

Director

  • Ol Parker

Cast

  • Dakota Fanning

  • Jeremy Irvine

  • Olivia Williams

  • Paddy Considine

  • Joe Cole

Review

After pleasing the more mature end of the movie-going spectrum with his script for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Ol Parker attempts to plug into the Nicholas Sparks fanbase with this teen-aimed tearjerker.

Although set in Brighton and based on the novel Before I Die by British author Jenny Downham, Now Is Good contains all the elements that turn Sparks' all-American blubfests (The Notebook, Dear John, The Last Song, etc) into global box office gold.

Up to its misty eyeballs in adolescent angst, ill-starred romance and inevitable tragedy, it even comes with a Hollywood lure in the precocious form of Dakota Fanning.

Easily passing for British in both accent and pallor, Fanning plays Tessa, the leukaemia-stricken teen who turns her back on chemo to carpe as many diems as possible before her time's up.

With her caring but despairing dad (Considine) unlikely to approve and her mum (Olivia Williams) an unreliable flake who lives elsewhere, Tess must rely on her sassy pal Zoey (Scodelario) to help her work through her bucket list.

But while Zoey is on hand to cross off the less legal entries, the box marked "Have Sex" looks doomed to remain unticked. Then along comes Adam (Irvine, the two-legged star of War Horse), a hot new neighbour with armfuls of compassion and a cool motorbike.

Tales of terminal illness are tricky. Treated right, you might get a Love Story. Treated wrong, you get A Little Bit Of Heaven. Worse yet, you could get The Bucket List.

Refreshingly open in its approach to death and the teenage condition while taking an airbrush to the harsher realities of cancer, Now Is Good presents a mostly positive prognosis - for its target audience at least.

There's common ground to be enjoyed in the dialogue, which never gets too mawkish (in the case of Tessa's little brother, it's splendidly blunt), while Considine and Williams hit just the right grown-up notes.

If several characters lack consistency and the subplot involving Zoey's personal situation is a manipulation too far, Parker and Fanning redress the balance of objectivity by ensuring that Tessa's more unreasonable behaviour is always born of frustration and resignation, not self-pity.

It wouldn't be British to get carried away, but when her time comes, even the stiffest upper lips may start to wobble.