Review of Now is Good

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This 2012 film tells the story of a girl dying of leukemia who puts together a list of things she'd like to do before she passes away. Topping the list is her desire to lose her virginity.
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Movie Review: Now is Good

--Rating: PG-13 (brief strong language and mature thematic material involving topics such as: illness, sexuality, and drugs)
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: September 21, 2012 (UK)
Directed by: Ol Parker
Genre: Drama
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Olivia Williams, Jeremy Irvine, Paddy Considine, and Kaya Scodelario

The movie "Now is Good" is based on the Jenny Downham novel, "Before I Die." It's the story of 17-year-old Tessa, who is dying of leukemia. Rather than going gently into that good night, Tessa, brilliantly played by Dakota Fanning, decides to live each moment to the fullest and compiles a list of the things she wants most to do before she dies. What follows is a heart-warming, and at times wrenching, tale of what goes on in the mind of a dying girl.

While this film features many things you expect to see in a movie like this, there are also a few surprises. What comes as no major shock is the item at the top of Tessa's bucket list: losing her virginity. In fact, Tessa sets out to do everything she feels an ordinary teen girl would do, including taking drugs. The film is filled with beautiful and poignant moments as Tessa and her friends mark items off her list. She even unexpectedly falls in love with her new neighbor, Adam, who is played by Jeremy Irvine. During this time, Tessa's friend Zoey, played by Kaya Scodelario, encourages her to explore a little bit of life on the wild side. This causes a few tense moments in the film, but it is part of what makes this movie so realistic for the audience.

While Tessa is busy living as much of life as possible in a few short months, her family struggles with the loss they know is coming. The movie is not all sunshine and roses. There are some serious themes in the film that may not be appropriate for younger audiences. However, it manages to explore this difficult subject matter with an impressive amount of raw tenderness. There are moments of weakness, joy, pain, uncertainty, and pleasure throughout the movie. In fact, it's an emotional roller coaster to watch, so be sure to bring along an adequate supply of tissues to make it through this film.

This is the rare movie that's an excellent choice for parents to watch with their teens-especially their teen daughters. It explores the emotions on both sides of the issue and forces the audience to see things from another point of view.
This is not a light-hearted summer film. Perhaps that's why the official UK launch date was pushed back from May until September 2012. This is a movie that will keep you thinking for quite a while. It's also a good film to help get conversations started about what's really important in life for teens.

The greatest benefit to come from watching "Now is Good" is that you should leave the theater with the understanding that, for many people, now is all there is. It's a movie with an important life lesson, and that's something that's missing in many films today. As Tessa takes care of unfinished business and seizes life by the horns, her friends and family are left to cope with the reality of what's going on in her world. Even while Tessa is out there taking care of business, her mortality is never too far from her thoughts. It's the machine that drives her.

Dakota Fanning does a superb job of playing Tessa. She's a completely believable character who is at times strong, weak, passionate, terrified, vulnerable, and strong-willed, as almost any 17-year-old girl in this situation should hope to be. The supporting cast lends touches of humor and lightness to a film that tackles one of the toughest issues there is-a life cut far too short. One thing that everyone will be able to say about Tessa when leaving the theater is that she had a life that was lived.

Movies can be many things to many people, and few movies today are as touching as this film. "Now is Good" is not a feel good film by any means, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a movie that will last much longer than the hour and 43 minutes you're sitting in the theater. It's a movie that will stick with you for a while and give you plenty of food for thought. What more can you really ask for when watching a film today?

Rating 3 out of 5 stars.