Written and directed by Joe Scott, following Ingrid (Sabrina Dickens) as a young woman having gone through more than her fair share for her short years, navigating her way through wild waters of emotion and adolescence with the help of music. Also starring: Brigid Shine, Anu Hasan, Ruth Millar, Fabien Ara, John Altman, Jonathan Burteaux, Andy Brophy, Carl Wharton, Stevee Davies, Aaron Jeffcoate and the ladies of JOANovARC.
The film begins on a striking note, visiting the character’s lowest point and setting a start that has nowhere to go but up. You’re thrust into the harrowing life of a woman, who’s received far too little of the respect, kindness and understanding that she so desperately needs and deserves. It provides a clear window into the film’s intentions, to blend film and music in exploring emotion in a way that is incredibly potent when involving such a difficult age of confusion, self-discovery and hormones.
There’s a blend of tones that can feel awkward at moments and even uncomfortably unfortunate but they are poignant, distressing and give the story a quality that’s hard to look away, even if you want to. The story hits a bit of a bump as it skips across the channel to Nantes, the setting and change of pace feel somewhat jarring, jumping from dark and gritty to much more hopeful and light but it slowly reveals itself to be an important part of the story, despite being slightly less compelling. It has the air of being slightly too fanciful, versus the harsh reality that preceded it but redeems itself as time goes on.
A strong burden is put on Dickens’ shoulders to carry the film, portraying its lead character, however she does well to keep the audience’s attention as well as capturing your sympathy to will her into a better life. Shine as best friend Jade is a bubbly, energetic addition, which gives the film an appreciated edge of levity. One of the most interesting characters is Angeline (Millar), she does not come across as entirely convincing for a good portion of her appearance but as you have time to adjust to the character, she has more to offer than you’d expect. However, her character arc does veer slightly outside of reality at points, feeling slightly too fairy tale in comparison to the realism earlier in the film.
It’s always great to see homegrown British indie cinema, Is This Now is compelling and while it has its ups and downs, that doesn’t take away from a good story with a lot to offer. It’s resolution may divide audiences but it is definitely worth watching.
Watch the trailer for Is This Now below!