A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Here and Now is a drama starring Sarah Jessica Parker about a singer/mom named Vivienne who abruptly finds out she doesn't have long to live thanks to a terminal cancer diagnosis. While Vivienne has lived an extraordinary life, she's not perfect; she's an absentee mother who has a time-consuming career, a prickly relationship with her mom (Jacqueline Bisset), and a string of broken relationships. The storyline may get teens thinking about parental mortality. The movie's mature content is authentic to the characters and the environment and includes swearing ("f--k," "s--t"), smoking, drinking, and sex talk. Vivienne and her love interest have sex a couple of times -- one of those scenes happens in the workplace, with a co-worker teasing them about it. The other is longer and more sensual, but there's no graphic nudity. The story gives viewers insight into how someone might process receiving personally tragic news.
What's the story?
In HERE AND NOW, a successful middle-aged singer in NYC named Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) learns that she has a fatal illness (terminal brain cancer) and is given a choice of two fairly bleak options. Over the course of 24 hours, she processes the information and reflects on the life choices she's made.
Is it any good?
Parker uses this drama as an opportunity to stretch and shine, proving she has substantial acting chops beyond the romcom corner she's been relegated to for most of her career. Here and Now takes place in the city closely associated with Parker -- Manhattan -- but Carrie Bradshaw is nowhere to be found. Instead, Parker transforms into Vivienne Carala, a jazz singer who's about to embark on a world tour (a reminder that Parker, whose career started in Annie on Broadway, is a strong singer) when she learns she has no more than 14 months to live. The script gives Parker quite a bit to work with, since much of Vivienne's experience is dealt with internally. And as Vivienne's ex-husband, Nick, Simon Baker breathes life into all of his scenes.
But while the subject matter -- impending death -- should be pretty emotional stuff, it doesn't translate that way for the audience. It's a dirge. Part of that is Parker's choice to play Vivienne with a stiff upper lip, but it's also due to the choices of first-time feature director Lucien Constant, who's best known for his fashion documentaries. As you might expect from an auteur whose typical subjects are expensive clothes and supermodels, the camera captures beauty everywhere: in the lighting, the shots of New York, and the concern in Vivienne's eyes. But Constant lets Parker down in how he captures her performance; it's just not as impactful as it should be. While Vivienne has a 16-year-old daughter (Gus Birney), a middle-aged woman contending with her own mortality isn't the stuff that will appeal to teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Here and Now deals with the subject matter of terminal illness. How do you think people's priorities change once they know their time is limited?
How does the movie depict sex? How is it different here from how it's often portrayed in movies made for teens? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How does the movie portray smoking? Is it glamorized?
Vivienne brushes up against others as she travels through New York City; some are playing, and some seem to be going through their own difficult moment. What do you think the film is trying to say?
The film's producers are both women, who made a point to hire talent and staff that consisted of women, people of color, and people from all over the world. Can you see the intention of diversity and inclusion in the finished film?
- In theaters: November 9, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: January 22, 2019
- Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Common, Simon Baker, Jacqueline Bisset
- Director: Fabien Constant
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some sexuality
- Last updated: November 13, 2019
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