Paul Schiraldi

Here and Now (2018 movie)

release date 11/09/18
C
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November 06, 2018 at 08:17 PM EST

In order to be at least halfway decent, day-in-the-life movies must reconcile with a certain fact: Most days in most lives are very, very dull.

In Here and Now (originally titled Blue Night), Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Vivienne, a successful touring singer who’s so isolated from her family and friends that she’s forced to bear the terrible news that she’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor alone. And so, instead of reckoning with it, she flits about her day, going from rehearsal to shopping to an impromptu meetup with friends, without ever really connecting with anything. The premise — an homage to the 1962 Agnès Varda film Cléo From 5 to 7 — works in spurts. A scene in which Vivienne shops for a dress feels intimate and carnal; an accidental run-in on the sidewalk with friends (only to realize they haven’t spoken in so long that they’ve become mere acquaintances) is heightened by the magnetic Renée Zellweger, barely concealing her suburban rage behind a cheerfully swirled glass of wine.

But for most of the film, Parker’s Vivienne is bland and forgettable. A scene where she sleeps with the drummer in her backup band is supposed to be titillating but instead feels perfunctory. As does a scene in which Vivienne, speaking French, argues with her mother (Jacqueline Bisset). There should be some context, some emotion here, and yet the scene is as thin and cheap as a Forever 21 shirt. It may look nice, sophisticated even, but it’s going to fall apart after one wash.

By the time Simon Baker appears as Vivenne’s ex-husband, Nick, the fact of her absence as a mother and spouse already feels eye-rollingly obvious. Yes, yes, she didn’t have time for childcare because she’s been touring. It’s something known rather than something felt, a fill-in-the-blank character development.

The film is perhaps embodied by a scene in which Vivienne sings in a club, performing well but not in a way that evokes any real emotion, either in her or in us, the audience. Maybe her detachment was a choice, to critique or pay tribute to Left Bank filmmaking. Or maybe director Fabien Constant confused melodrama for flatness. With no humor to elevate Here and Now, you wouldn’t be remiss to just flip to an old episode of Sex in the City instead just to remember that it’s possible to have fun with SJP, and with New York.

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