Sunday, 23 February 2014

"Now Is Good" on BLU RAY - A Review Of The 2012 Film And Which Version To Buy ...



 "...There Has To Be Some Perks To Being Terminally Ill..."

Tessa Scott is a normal 17-year old girl living in the South of England in the coastal town of Brighton. Her slightly older pal - the gorgeous and effortlessly sexy Zoey has no problems with 'doing' her boyfriend Scott - she's just not so good at keeping what his young loins have deposited (nicely played by Kaya Scoldelario). Tessa hasn't been so naughty yet but she wants to be. She wants to have sex, swill beer, pop a few pills, hit a racist, ride a wave in Hawaii, ski down a mountain and on a boring weekday maybe even engage in a bit of shoplifting in the mall (breaking the law). The only problem with Tessa's 'bucket list' of moments is that she's running out of time because she has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Worse Tessa couldn't stand the chemotherapy for such an aggressive cancer and has chosen to opt out - so now she desperately wants to fulfill her list ("as much as I can...as fast as I can...").

Her father and mother (a superlative combination of Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams) are separated and poles apart. Uber-responsible loving Dad cares too much - suffocating Tessa with his need to control every part of her life in a bid to protect her from pain - while flighty Mum can't even seem to turn up on time for a crucial hospital appointment. Her 9-year old younger brother Cal worries too in his own soppy way (Edgar Canham) "are you gonna haunt me..." But then hope arrives in the shape of a handsome and genuine English lad who literally moves in next door with his Mum (Jeremy Irvine generously giving the screen and movie to Fanning). Adam's father has died the year earlier and Tessa and Adam's initial meets are awkward and even reluctant (occasionally funny) but then the two slowly move towards each other despite their pasts and her lack of a future. And on it goes. This is a girl wanting love and finding it - wanting to matter - and realizing that she actually does...

Written and Directed by Ol Parker (adapted from Jenny Downham's book "Before I Die") - "Now Is Good" is a bit of a weepy for sure - but what makes it life-affirming and special are the beautifully realized performances by all of its lead actors (especially the phenomenal Dakota Fanning who never once lets that American accent slip and maintains a perfectly judged calmness throughout) and the depth in the script. As you can imagine material like this could be mawkish if handled badly - but "Now Is Good" never feels manipulative. The sentimentality is kept in check by candid and at times brutal exchanges between Tessa and her father and the new visiting home nurse Phillippa (superb work by Rayke Ayola).

"Now Is Good" is also that rare thing - tender and observant - full of great moments - seeing a daughter and mum at the front door of their home connect ("don't be afraid..."), sitting on a bench in the sunshine overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover, holding her first proper boyfriend on the bus home, fireworks at night in the garden with family, cooking breakfast for Dad ("who are you and what have you done with my daughter..."), Adam carving a snow angel in the ground, horses running free beside a set in railings in a park as they return home from Dover once more on a motorbike, Nurse Phillippa humanely describing to Tessa how the end will come...

Special mention should also go to the exceptional music by Dustin O'Halloran that fills so many scenes with emotion - fun and flighty one minute - aching and broken the next - an amazing piece of work.

A BLU RAY of "Now Is Good" is not available in the UK or USA. My copy is a German issue that I purchased on the GERMAN AMAZON SITE (use Barcode Number 887654313492 in their Search Bar). For some reason this reasonably priced version is not for sale on Amazon UK? When you do get your copy - as the movie starts - you will need to go to the Audio button on your remote and actually seek out the English 5.1 DTS-HD Audio track - or it'll play the film overdubbed in German.

Defaulted to 2.35:1 aspect ratio (bars on top and bottom) or even stretched to full screen - the picture quality is absolutely beautiful throughout and as already mentioned - the audio is warm, full and gorgeous.

The extras feature interviews with all the lead cast filmed in Hi Def (how they approached the roles and working with the other actors) and Director Ol Parker heaping praise on his cast (especially Dakota Fanning 'going for it'). There's also Deleted Scenes and a very long behind the cameras B-Roll segment with the actors and crew (shots of Brighton Beach and Town, White Cliffs Of Dover, Epping Forest, Leyton Ice Rink).

Like many - I came to this movie not expecting much and was more than surprised - I was moved. Using the parlance - "Now Is Good" is smart enough to keep it real - and by doing so - has captured in film and sound a loveliness that is rare. Well done to all involved.

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