A descent into grief and an examination on the affects of re-opening old wounds, Time Now, from writer/director Spencer King, is a tragic thriller that implements an unreliable narrator to maintain a certain intrigue as it navigates its central tragedy.
Jenny (Eleanor Lambert, daughter of Diane Lane and Christopher Lambert) is feeling secluded and alone in her life, and any levity she hopes to achieve through a reconnection with her family is dimmed when she’s informed her brother, Gonzo (Sebastian Beacon), has passed away.
Having left her family years prior, Jenny’s homecoming is less-than-welcome. Her mother (Jeannine Thompson) resents her, though her aunt (Claudia Black) is more willing to extend both a dialogue and a helping hand as Jenny at once seeks out answers to her brother’s death, whilst attempting to mend her own broken psyche.
As she garners a certain closeness with friends of Gonzo’s – all linked to the local arts scene – Jenny starts to question if the car accident that supposedly took his life is truly the reasoning behind his demise. As much as King could have easily steered the film towards a more action-heavy climax as Jenny seeks the truth, he wisely keeps Time Now rooted in an emotionality, detailing the agony in finding a purpose in someone’s death.
That being said, not all of Time Now is successful in its execution. As much as the story revels in an emotional outreach, Jenny, as a character, always feel like someone keeping herself at a distance from the audience. Her interactions with those around her help clue us in on as to who she was before she returned home – and the film’s lack of verbal exposition is welcome – but with the film following her so intimately in finding what happened to her brother, a lack of any connection means there’s a difficulty in understanding her completely.
However distant her character may feel, or however predictable some may find the story, there’s certainly no fault on behalf of the cast, with Lambert particularly engrossing as the dejected Jenny; the film’s final shot of her character unloading a hoard of emotion is quite bewitching to watch.
A film that delights in taking a tried and true narrative and skewering it in a manner that proves not always expected, Time Now, in both its expected and unconventional moments, succeeds at layering realism to a heightened premise.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Time Now is screening as part of this year’s Austin Film Festival, which is being presented both in-person and virtually between October 21st and 28th, 2021. For more information head to the official Austin Film Festival page.