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Time was, Hollywood could make glorious, multi-hankie, illness-tinged romantic weepers, from Dark Victory to Love Story. These days, the formula tale of a couple whose relationship gets tested by sickness is usually the province of disease-of-the-week TV movies. But in Go Now (Gramercy), British director Michael Winterbottom has made a non-Hollywood movie that succeeds, to the extent that it does, because while the plot is classic Hollywood schmaltz, the stars are bracingly schmaltz free; they’re the anti-Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal.

Nick (The Full Monty‘s Robert Carlyle) lives a working-bloke life in Bristol, England, anchored by the physical: He’s a plasterer who plays soccer (his team just so happens to be the Monts) and enjoys a vital (and graphic) sex life with his strapping girlfriend Karen (Juliet Aubrey from Winterbottom’s Welcome to Sarajevo). The symptoms of Nick’s multiple sclerosis emerge slowly at first, but soon overwhelm him, and in his despair he tells Karen — well, exactly what the movie’s title and the Moody Blues song say. With flashes of cheek and a naturalistically blunt script by Paul Henry Powell (himself living with MS) and Priest screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, Go Now admirably avoids much of the mawkishness associated with the genre. But there are just enough hospital visits and standing-in-the-pouring-rain bits to remind you that Bette Davis was there first, suffering bravely. B-

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