A spirited DIY movie that blends road comedy, drama, romance and wistful memory, For Now is a welcome introduction to Australian filmmaker and actor Hannah Barlow who co-directs her debut feature with Kane Senes. Barlow and Senes basically play themselves as fraught millennials in Los Angeles pursing careers in the arts — she’s an actress; he’s a filmmaker. Kane plans to propose when the time is right but it rarely is once the couple embarks on a road trip up the California coast.
The movie opens with video footage of a family vacation.These happy images will continue to haunt the film, as we learn that Hannah’s parents died years ago in a car crash. The purpose of the road trip is to transport Hannah’s younger brother Connor (Connor Barlow), a dancer who just arrived from Australia, to an audition for the San Francisco Ballet. Hannah and Connor share a playful, often bittersweet bond represented by a stuffed animal that becomes increasingly symbolic as the action progresses. Also along for the ride is Hannah’s American pal Katherine, (Katherine Du Bois) who complicates things at every turn but who ends up being the most grounded of the foursome.
Hannah and Connor are given to telling grisly tales of their parents’ demise which is countered by the effective use of the home video which grows more poignant as the story unfolds. For Now credibly examines the sibling relationship, as Hannah longs to have her brother nearby but he’s not so sure. The impending audition becomes both an end point and new start.
The cast is charismatic enough to make these millennials likable even when they are not, and to compensate when the plot begins to drag. This is especially true when the friends get high and, in true stoner fashion, are more amusing to themselves and each other than to the audience. But there are moments of quiet power such as Connor rehearsing his dance alone in the woods, his writhing body reflected in a pond.
The original pop score is an effective soundtrack, and the scenery of Northern California is beautifully captured. Shot on a bare-bones budget over the course of seven days, the film’s loose, improvised style has its pitfalls but mostly it works, thanks to the engaging cast.