What would you do to find out what happened to a loved one? There might be an even more challenging question to build off that as well. What would you do to someone when you find out they did something to someone you loved? The morality of these questions is grey, and the consequences can be terrible and permanent. One of the great things about art is being able to channel ideas that many of us can only theorize about. Even better…film can bring them to life and a fully realized world. This idea is the core of the new drama Time Now.
How does writer-director Spencer King tackle such big ideas in this new film? King takes the central premise of the death of a brother and builds a mystery full of grief and tension around it. The filmmaking is raw in its stark realism. You can easily be watching a camera crew following the lives of a real-life family processing loss and trying to do what is best for themselves. Actress Eleanor Lambert leads the charge with a strong performance as Jenny, our lead and sister to the deceased. Lambert’s grounded and intense performance feels real in the same way that the rest of the film does. This synergy allows for consistency and pulls the audience into their journey. Jenny tries to meet the needs of her children and confront the toxic past she has left behind. We have certainly seen tenuous dramas such as this before and Time Now tackles quite a few tropes.
But it is always in the way a film deals with its tropes, right? The return to a home long left behind is quite the common one and this one certainly packs plenty of tension into it. Lambert’s performance allows the audience to feel deeply this abuse that she left behind with her mother. The old town she left behind is just as haunting. As the film goes on, King can peel back the layers of this terrible place and the people who inhabit it. Are they just as bad? Did they have something to do with this tragedy? That is left open for the audience to find out as this drama plays out. There is enough mystery and drama there to propel the story forward. The audience is treated to enough characters to connect with that they can feel like they have a horse in the fight. This is a rough film to watch and that makes it a challenge for its audience.
But here is a tough question in itself…when does a film challenge too hard? Can a film push its protagonist beyond the point of no return? Time Now walks that tightrope. Your final thoughts on King’s film will really lie in the final moments of the film. You experience so much heartache and grief along the way in this film that by the end…is it too much? The final frames of the film are admittedly shocking, heartbreaking, and impactful in such a cinematic way but does its resolution provide…well, resolution? For me, it felt like a bridge too far for Jenny. She lost her way and maybe the film did too. But that is up to interpretation. Overall, there are few films out there right now that will pack the emotional punch that Time Now does and it is certainly worth the viewing.