In Love Story, the 1970 weepie in which boy meets girl and girl dies – sorry, that’s it – it is, let me reiterate, the girl who dies. It always is, sickness being part of the female condition, in mainstream Hollywood of the era anyway. Different decade same idea in Now Is Good, a boy-meets-girl-and-girl-dies weepie with Dakota Fanning as the pale, interesting girl, Jeremy Irvine as the boy she falls for and leaves behind.
To go into further plot detail is pointless – the publicity material points out that Tessa (Fanning) has a bucket list and that losing her virginity is at the top of it. But that’s little more than a tease, because the film is really all about the dying – anyone remember any actual plot detail from Love Story? So let’s talk about Fanning’s British accent, which is terrible. For some reason if you’re blonde and an American actress then it’s just a matter of time before you’re required to lube up and insert that British stick up your ass – Witherspoon, Johansson, Zellweger, Paltrow and Williams (Michelle) have all done it.
Now it’s Fanning’s turn and what a cacking mess this accomplished actress makes of it. And it’s not for lack of trying. This girl is putting so much effort into getting the vowel sounds right – “I don’t caaah” she tells someone at some point – that she completely loses touch with the rhythms of the language, leaves dangerous pauses where there shouldn’t be any, jumps onto the ends of other people’s sentences when she can’t logically yet know quite what they’re saying. It’s so bad, in fact, that it throws everyone else off too – including the excellent Kaya Scodelario, who plays Tessa’s naughty best friend, her coltlike beauty knocked back a fair bit by the make-up department (mustn’t upstage the star).
Now Is Good is a Mills and Boon or Harlequin story for girls who like horses. Enter Jeremy Irvine – still glowing from War Horse – playing the boy next door (literally) whose backstory about a dead dad is touched on just enough to let us know that he is damaged. And he makes a pretty good stab at being the lead, lovely hair, lovely jawline, though he’s going to have to get himself to the gym if he’s going to make the transition to proper masculine acting.
So I hated it? Not entirely. Too fragrant when dealing with the shitty decline that leukaemia brings with it, and buggeringly awful though the acting was for the most part, the film managed to pull the odd weepie moment out of the bag, in true ta-daaah style. These came mostly from the interaction between Paddy Considine, playing Fanning’s tough, devastated dad and Olivia Williams, playing her flighty, drinky me-me-me mum.
But there was the big one, where Fanning and Irvine first kiss, after he’s run a mile from her after realising he’s falling for a girl who’s not going to be around for very long. “What’s the worst that can happen?” she asks him, attempting to get him to kiss her. “It’ll hurt,” he replies – meaning when she’s gone. “It already hurts,” she says in a little choked voice, clinching the deal. And a little tear sprang into my eye unbidden.
Now Is Good – at Amazon
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© Steve Morrissey 2012