Review: Now Is Good (12A)

Undated Film Still Handout from Now Is Good. Pictured: Dakota Fanning as Tessa and Jeremy Irvine as Adam.  See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.  WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from Now Is Good. Pictured: Dakota Fanning as Tessa and Jeremy Irvine as Adam. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

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BASED on the book Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Now Is Good is a touching drama about two teenagers united in the shadow of terminal illness, written and directed for the screen by Ol Parker.

The script is laced with dry humour and lead actress Dakota Fanning sports a credible English accent as the plucky heroine who vows to do “as much as I can, as fast as I can” before she loses her battle with leukaemia.

She also sparks a pleasing on-screen chemistry with Jeremy Irvine as the handsome and responsible beau, who just happens to move in next door with his mother.

The film largely keeps the grim reality of terminal illness off screen, apart from one striking scene in which the heroine suffers a heavy nose bleed and red liquid gushes out of her body, soaking a towel and cascading on to the floor.

Final scenes, while emotionally manipulative, handle the grief and goodbyes with sensitivity.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa (Fanning) has the same lust for life as her best friend Zoey (Kaya Scodelario), but Tessa won’t live to see her 18th birthday, go to university or raise a family.

Painfully aware of how few days and weeks remain, Tessa makes a list of dreams she would like to realise before she dies, including losing her virginity, taking drugs and going shoplifting with Zoey.

She thinks nothing of spending merrily on a credit card, quipping, “Buy now, pay later... or not!”

Tessa’s protective father (Paddy Considine) and flighty mother (Olivia Williams) are determined to protect their daughter as best they can in these final weeks, but the teenager wants to take risks.

This includes falling hopelessly in love with hunky neighbour Adam (Irvine), who is ill-prepared for Tessa’s illness.

Out of everyone, the one person who seems to cope best with Tessa’s impending death is her cherubic nine-year-old brother, Cal (Edgar Canham).

“Will I still be your brother when you’re dead?” he asks his sister tenderly. “Will you haunt me?”

Now Is Good quickly establishes friction between Tessa and her father, who are at loggerheads about the best way to spend those precious final days.

She is determined to complete her bucket list – “Most of the things are illegal!” – while he believes she should be wrapped in cotton wool.

Fanning tugs heartstrings, while Irvine looks handsome in beautifully lit close-up, although the script doesn’t stretch him.

Trippy camerawork accompanies a scene of Tessa and Zoey taking magic mushrooms and Williams underscores the safe-sex message to the target teenage audience with a salty aside: “I know the smell of rubber is off-putting, but so is gonorrhoea.”

Safety always, even on your deathbed.