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East End Film Festival Review: Here and Now

6th June 2014

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Part of the East End Film Festival, Here and Now tells the story of tough-talking East Londoner Grace, her warring parents, and their weeklong trip to the countryside in a shaky attempt to reconnect.

In the Wye Valley Grace meets silent, bereaved local boy Say, and against the backdrop of the fading summer a relationship develops that goes deeper than the atypical teenage summer romance.

Character-wise, Grace feels like a stereotype at first, with an East London dialect that sounds overly contrived. As her character develops and her vulnerability starts to appear, this front falls away – but we still question whether she needed to be depicted quite so unsubtly in the first place. It’s easy to believe in the at first spiky, later understanding, relationship between the leads – but much less so between Grace and her parents, who don’t seem to fit together in any way whatsoever. But then, maybe this is the point.

It’s the feature debut for both Lauren Johns (Grace) and Andy Rush (Say), as well as being the first full length work of director Lisle Turner, who is better known for his shorts. In some ways it is successful – the cinematography is creative and the hazy lighting used to frame the film’s countryside setting makes the entire thing visually appealing. Turner is interested in Buddhism and its peaceful philosophies, and it’s clearly reflected here in the use of silence and the gradual disappearance of summer.  

What Here and Now lacks is the originality of storyline or script or depth of character to fully back any of this up. It’s a pretty film, without a whole lot of substance, which is a shame because it ends up being only partially involving. There is a definite sense of sadness and loss at work, but we’re left wanting more background to explain the characters’ bubbling emotions.

The film’s website describes its concluding moments: “Amidst the scenic grandeur of a dying summer, delicately, inexorably, they fall in love. The glorious change of the season from summer to autumn echoes and amplifies the intensity of their changing lives. First love takes them both to new emotional territory.”

Unfortunately, this emotional territory is never fully explored. The film’s events only take place over one week, but this feels like too short a time – Grace and Says’ relationship needs longer to establish the depth that Turner obviously wishes for it, and for the audience to believe that it is genuine. Unfortunately, despite the general slow pace and the fact that Here and Now isn’t scared of using long silences to their full effect, the ending feels rushed and doesn’t quite fulfil the promise of deep emotion that its creators were attempting to convey.

There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for this – the film is only just over 80 minutes long, so a bit more time taken to complete Grace and Says’ story instead of rushing quickly towards the credits wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch, and could’ve made Here and Now a lot more successful.

Here and Now is showing as part of the East End Film Festival, at the Genesis Cinema on Mile End Road, on 17th June at 8.45pm. It is followed by a Q&A with director Lisle Turner, producer Martina Klich, and actors Andy Rush and Lauren Johns. Tickets are available from the Genesis Cinema website here.

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