Here and Now
by Rachel Willis
What would you do upon receiving the worst news of your life? How would you spend the next 24 hours?
These are the questions that plague Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) upon learning she has a tumor. More tests are required to diagnose the nature of the tumor, but if it’s cancerous, she can expect to live another 14 months with aggressive treatment.
It’s telling that Vivienne is alone when she receives this information. From the beginning, director Fabien Constant creates a sense of loneliness around her. After receiving the devastating news, her next stop is a rehearsal for her upcoming 25th anniversary show. A number of band members have clearly been waiting, but Vivienne mollifies their annoyance with banal pleasantries. She doesn’t mention to any of them, including her manager Ben (Common), that she is sick.
Vivienne spends the next 24 hours wandering from place the place. The New York City backdrop perfectly captures the theme of isolation despite being surrounded by millions. Though Vivienne has friends, a concerned mother, a lover, and a daughter, it’s clear from the dialogue she has always maintained an aloofness around those who care for her.
Writer Laura Eason gives us just enough to understand Vivienne’s relationships without giving away too much. Her relationship with the father of her daughter, Nick (Simon Baker) is cordial, but it’s clear from his tone when speaking about their daughter, Vivienne hasn’t been the most engaged mother. She’s been too busy with her career.
Though the first act of the film manages to convey a lot of information in brief exchanges, and Sarah Jessica Parker aptly conveys the emotional anguish of Vivienne, the second half falls quickly into melodrama. The idea that Vivienne is desperate for a connection is conveyed by a number of trite interactions with a Lyft driver who happens to make repeat appearances in her life. The naturalness of the dialogue in the first half is replaced with brief, forced conversations about profound subjects, mainly the power of music.
It’s unfortunate that Hollywood has adopted the policy of casting actors in singing roles when they can’t sing. Gone are the days of overdubbing actors with quality singers. Instead, we’re forced to listen to Parker muddle her way through a cheesy song. And not once, but twice.
With a title like Here and Now, it’s not a surprise that the film takes a melodramatic turn, but it’s a shame since it had a promising start.