Title: Here And Now
Director: Lisle Turner
Major Players: Lauren Johns, Andy Rush
Out Of Five: 2.5
Just when those tears from The Fault In Our Stars have all but dried, another teenage romance arrives on the screen. But this time there’s no Hollywood fanfare, rising stars or big bucks. Low budget British offering, Here And Now, creates an unlikely little love story between a gobby city girl and a taciturn country boy. But, sadly, it’s unlikely to create a spike in Kleenex sales.
Grace (Lauren Johns) is an inner city teenager with attitude and the mandatory ‘street’ talk. Made to spend a week’s holiday with her parents in a country cottage, her main concern is the lack of a signal for her mobile. By chance, she’s introduced to local boy Say (Andy Rush) who, reluctantly, agrees to show her around the area. As he takes her to his favourite places, including an underground cave, their attitudes towards each other start to change and stronger feelings develop.
Filmed extensively in Herefordshire and the Welsh borders, the film’s biggest strength is its photography. In truth, it would have been hard not to make the setting look beautiful, but cinematographer Will Humprhis has done a superb job, making the most of the late summer light with delicate close ups of wildflowers, stunning cloud formations and the brooding constant presence of the local mountain. He’s equally good at depicting less hospitable conditions, when the two teenagers venture up that mountain and encounter the cold, the wet and the biting wind.
Visuals aside, the film’s success hangs very much on whether or not we believe in the relationship between Grace and Say. Initially, they’re polar opposites and inhabit totally different worlds. Grace is appalled that the TV in the holiday cottage doesn’t even have Freeview, Say doesn’t have, or appear to need, a mobile phone. But this is his territory, so he’s completely comfortable, while Grace is the fish out of water, just like the abandoned rowing boat he takes her to see in the middle of a maize field. It all takes place during the course of one single week and, given their differences, it doesn’t quite make it as a love story, more of a holiday romance.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite make it as a feature film either. The story itself is slight and, while it has a certain amount of charm, there just isn’t enough there for a full length movie. So the director falls into the trap of relying too heavily on the wonderful photography, lingering too long over some of the landscapes and including too many of them, so that it starts to feel like padding. A shame, when the man behind the camera has done such a great job.
Johns and Rush are both in their first feature lead roles and they do a creditable job. Certainly their characters are sufficiently rounded to give them plenty to work with. The same can’t be said of the adults in the story, Grace’s parents and Say’s mum, who are thinly drawn, giving the actors precious little to work with.
Here And Now is a film that shows promise, primarily from the cinematographer and the two leads. But put those aside, and you’re not left with much else that encourages the emotional involvement in the story that would have you reaching for those hankies.
Here And Now is on limited release around the UK, and on VOD, on Friday, 4 July.