Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Is This Now

Grade : A Year : 2017 Director : Joe Scott Running Time : 1hr 36min Genre : , ,
Movie review score

We understand early on what pain is eating away at Ingrid (Sabrina Dickens). The film begins with what is basically a music video of a naked woman in a busted up bathroom, with a floor of water and blood. The lyrics are a vivid representation of the agony going on in the young woman’s soul. Ingrid’s story begins proper not long after, as we see her with a social worker (Anu Hasan) who will come to care for her, starting over after the last boarding situation failed, as well. Her new one, with a couple, will, as well, as will the retail job she is set up at. Life is not being kind to Ingrid, and in brief snippets, we understand why. She has been sexually abused. And she has been silent about it. She has been silent for the same reason women are typically silent about such things- the people they would normally go to wouldn’t believe them. With her anger and emotional issues, moments like Ingrid kneeing a customer, her foster father, in the groin are her fault, and what she says wouldn’t matter. “Is This Now,” written and directed by Joe Scott, is about how Ingrid attempts to find some peace in her life.

Music is a key component of “Is This Now,” and one of the ways Ingrid attempts to let go of her pain is through poetry, and, when she meets a friend (Jade, played by Brigid Shine) who is a musician, and hangs out with a band, that poetry will become songs. There’s something haunting and beautiful and powerful about the use of music in this film, and Scott’s musical collaborators, Simon Finley and Kaya Herstad-Carney, do strong work in laying out the emotional map the film will follow. Whether it’s Finley’s underscore, or songs written by Herstad-Carney, or songs by the band in the film, JOANovARC, all feels at service of the story, and the minefield of emotions Ingrid is going through. Ingrid finds an unlikely mentor in songwriter and band manager Johnny (John Altman), and that bond, along with her friendship with Jade, opens doors for a better piece of mind, and chances she might never have taken to open up. All the while, her most recent social worker, whom has since taken her as her ward after some missteps, is giving her a place to call home, but also trying to put the pieces together about Ingrid’s life, and what trauma she’s endured.

Harassment, sexual assault, and what it can do to victims, is an important topic right now, and it’s rare to find a movie, or TV show, that hits on the emotional tolls to its victims quite as vividly as Scott does here. The ending feels out of place, given the growth, and possibilities for things being better, we’ve seen in Ingrid throughout the film, but it also makes sense, given the roiling sense of anger she seems to have throughout the film, as well. Having said all of that, “Is This Now” wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does without strong performances, and starting with Dickins, Scott gets superb work out of all of his actors. Nobody really overdoes it or makes you feel like they are overselling the material, and that’s important for a film so rooted in emotional pain and inner turmoil. One of the standouts in the supporting cast is Ruth Millar as Angeline, a French woman with whom Ingrid and Jade stay with who understands what Ingrid is going through all too well. That moment of bonding between the two women is a key moment in a film that turns on important moments of tenderness for a young woman who always feels like a step away from her breaking point. “Is This Now” walks a fine line, and it makes for a formidable emotional journey.

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