Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) is an accomplished singer is at the height of her career. Her latest album is about to be release and she has a special twenty-fifth anniversary performance happening at the historic Birdland Theatre. Her life is about to take a drastic turn when a medical diagnosis presents her with some devastating news. Told that she has only 14 months to live, though there is a chance that she lives but will never sing again, Vivienne spend the next 24 hours reflecting on her life and the choices she has made while juggling rehearsals and interviews.
Reminiscent of Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7, though not on par with that masterwork, Fabien Constant’s Here and Now is a quiet examination of the inner turmoil that comes with facing the finite nature of our existence. As Vivienne attempts to keep her emotions in check, we get a glimpse into her life through the individuals she crosses path with. This includes her loyal manager Ben (Common), her overbearing mother Jeanne (Jacqueline Bisset), her high school friend Tessa (Renée Zellweger) and her recurring encounter with a moody LYFT driver Sami (Waleed Zuaiter).
The script by Laura Eason does not offer any big theatrical moments or deep monologues on the importance of cherishing everyday as if it could be your last. Instead the film takes a more realistic approach to the shock that Vivienne is coming to terms with. Here and Now leaves a lot of the heavy lifting to the viewer, only providing just enough information to make Vivienne relatable. While this creates a consistent sense of intrigue, as one is always waiting to see when and who Vivienne will reveal her news to, it does make a few arcs, such as the one with her ex-husband Nick (Simon Baker) and their daughter Jordon (Taylor Kinney), lack the emotional depth it strives for.
Though the pacing is too methodical for its own good, there is a hypnotic allure to the film that holds one’s interest. A lot of this is due to the strong performance by Sarah Jessica Parker. Often using subtly to convey the feelings of uncertainty, regret and change, Parker is effective in the role and allows the film to overcome it various flaws.
The one bonus feature on the DVD, which arrives today courtesy of Paramount Home Media Distribution, is a featurette entitle “Here and Now: A Diagnosis of a Story” in which Constant, Eason and the cast talk about the story beats. The feature also inadvertently points out what the film might have been had the audience been given more insight into characters such as Sami and Vivienne’s ex-husband Nick.
Here and Now’s even-keel approach to its narrative will not be for everyone, but Parker’s performance allows the film to resonate longer than expected.
Bonus Feature: Here and Now: A Diagnosis of a Story