MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 9, 2018: HERE AND NOW
Introspective and contemplative, Fabien Constant’s drama Here and Now follows talented singer Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) through roughly 24 hours after she’s diagnosed with a serious form of brain cancer and learns she may have no more than 14 months left to live. With everything from her upcoming tour to her time with her teenage daughter now up in the air, Vivienne struggles to come to terms with this unexpected twist of fate.
The movie’s key conflict is within Vivienne herself; she needs to share her dire news with those around her to get the support she needs to face treatment, but she also wants to completely reject and deny the idea that everything is about to change. And so she drifts through her day, keeping her family and friends largely at arm’s length, but also seizing on moments of passion and connection. She blows off her high-maintenance mother, Jeanne (Jacqueline Bisset); reconnects with another singer whose life has taken a different direction (Renee Zellweger); flirts around the truth with her ex (Simon Baker); and makes an unexpected connection with a ride-share driver (Waleed Zuaiter).
Parker delivers an uncharacteristically subdued performance as Vivienne; Constant and screenwriter Laura Eason give her space and time to feel and react to each situation she finds herself in, and she takes advantage of the opportunity. And while those feelings and reactions are often frustrating — tell them already, Vivienne! — they’re also believable and organic.
After all, it’s completely understandable to want to stay in the “before” time when something big is on the verge of changing your life, especially for the worse. The “after” is scary and infuriating, especially when it involves a sea change in your self perception and identity. Putting it off, even for a day, is human nature. And that’s why Here and Now is such a compellingly human film. — Betsy Bozdech
Team #MOTW’s comments:
Loren King How would a day unfold when it starts with a doctor delivering a grim diagnosis? That’s the premise of Here and Now, a modest but affecting drama written by playwright and House of Cards scribe Laura Eason. It’s an intimate character study that rests on the lead performance from Sarah Jessica Parker, de-glammed save for her Kim Novak platinum hair. Parker plays Vivienne Carala, a successful vocalist preparing for an anniversary show at New York’s legendary Birdland. Read full review.
Nikki Baughan: What writer Laura Eason’s screenplay does do is effectively mine the anonymity and isolation of modern life, where people connect more easily through technology than face-to-face; we often see Vivienne surrounded by people but utterly, desperately alone. And if Fabien Constant’s direction sometimes over-eggs the pudding – there are, perhaps, too many puddle reflections, too many dizzying camera movements suggesting Vivienne’s obvious tumult – then the emotional truth of the story, and Parker’s nuanced, sympathetic performance, prevent it from straying too far into melodrama. Read full review.
Kristen Page Kirby “There are a lot of things I haven’t accomplished,” says (very accomplished) singer Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) to a reporter interviewing her about her long career. She doesn’t mean picking up Grammys; as Vivienne meanders through the day she was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer she sees almost nothing but what she’s not going to be able to do. Director Fabien Constant shoots in a lovely series of cool blues, greens and grays that highlights how Parker — in a sensitively understated performance — is sliding through the day seemingly without emotion. Instead, Vivienne’s journey is about the feeling of unreality that seems to come only when you get really clobbered with reality itself.
Susan Wloszczyna: Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, the story takes place in Manhattan, but is a far cry from her Cosmopolitan-swilling single lady escapades in Sex and the City. Instead, it is about a moody singer in the midst of preparing for a major engagement who learns that she has a possibly deadly brain tumor. Read full review.
Elizabeth Whittemore Sarah Jessica Parker gives her career-best performance in this awe-inspiring look at life and regret. The film shines in its sound editing. Parker comes to life in an entirely different way when there is no dialogue at all. Here and Now is also a living, breathing homage to New York City in sight and sound. This film was hands down one of the best to come out of the Tribeca Film Festival this year. Read full review.
Marilyn Ferdinand: Sarah Jessica Parker will forever be wedded in the minds of viewers to New York City and her fashion-forward, sexually searching character Carrie Bradshaw from the hit TV series Sex and the City. It has been 15 years since the end of the series, however, and Parker is exploring new career territory with Here and Now, a serious drama from award-winning writer Laura Eason (House of Cards) and first-time feature director Fabien Constant. While keeping artifacts from Parker’s portrayal of Bradshaw—Manolo Blahnik stiletto sandals, the streets of New York, a steamy sex life—Parker’s character, a renowned singer named Vivienne, has just gotten the devastating news that she has, at most, 14 months to live. Director Constant is French, and he has decided to start his feature film career with a remake of Agnès Varda’s brilliant 1962 film Cléo from 5 to 7. While he could certainly have picked worse films to try to emulate, his directorial choices seem haphazard and amateurish. Here and Now is packed with French references—the welcome presence of Jacqueline Bisset speaking mostly in French, a clip from director Alain Resnais’ Love Unto Death, the music of Django Reinhardt—but the symbolism of these and other choices is heavy-handed and will certainly bewilder audiences unfamiliar with his references. The big revelation for me was Helga Davis, an incredible jazz singer who gets a few moments to show her stuff before she asks Vivienne to come up on stage to perform a Rufus Wainwright song—an unfortunate juxtaposition of a real singer with a pretend one. The great cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe brings new moods to the much-photographed New York City, offering an undercurrent of emotion that I wish the rest of the film matched.
Jennifer Merin Here and Now is a powerful character-driven drama about a woman in her prime who suddenly faces circumstances that force her to reevaluate and try to make right everything in her life. Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Vivienne, the divorcee, mom and blues singer, diagnosed with a brain tumor that is likely to terminate her life or completely incapacitate her within months. Written by Laura Eason, the script gives Parker all the beats she needs to bring the pathos home. The film may be seen as an homage to Agnes Varda’s incomparable classic Cleo From 9 to 5, which is a must see — or re-see, as the case may be.
Cate Marquis Sarah Jessica Parker stars in Here and Now, a character study of a jazz singer diagnosed with a brain tumor, following her over the course of the day before she is scheduled for surgery. The New York-set drama is a sort of homage to French New Wave director Agnes Varda 1962 classic Cleo from 5 to 7. Read full review.
Title: Here and Now
Directors: Fabien Constant
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Running Time: 91 minutes
Screenwriter: Laura Eason
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Betsy Bozdech, Marilyn Ferdinand, Pam Grady, Esther Iverem, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Kristen Page-Kirby, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna, Jeanne Wolf
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Edited by Jennifer Merin