WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Patterns of exploitation. The spectre of anger, judgement, and unmitigated shame placed upon the then-damaged conscious of any victim of abuse is hard enough to hear about, much less when it involves children. Subject to unforgiveable acts, the lasting effect the child carries within them into their teens and beyond can be catastrophic, emotionally and otherwise, with the openness to accepting any form of solace a trial unto itself. Such is the plight for one young woman named Ingrid (Sabrina Dickens) as she struggles desperately to even admit the horrific realities she experienced as a child, now trying to find herself and a place within a world that seems as unfeeling and harsh as her past. Even with the initial efforts of social worker Ms. Murray (Anu Hasan), Ingrid remains fearful, closed off, and apart.
However, when she meets the carefree and somewhat mischievous Jade (Brigid Shine), Ingrid’s life begins to slowly take a turn for the better, especially when she finds Jade’s involvement with a local up-and-coming band and their lead songwriter Johnny (John Altman) who helps bring out Ingrid’s own creative side. Yet, the ghosts of the past still haunt Ingrid, even as she gets further immersed in Jade and the band’s world. Ultimately ending up in France where their host Angeline (Ruth Millar) aids Ingrid in confronting her inner demons, a chance to explore newfound love emerges in the form of the charismatic Dion (Fabien Ara). But soon it becomes apparent that Ingrid has her own designs on putting the past in its place.
Next, my Mind:
For anyone that viewed writer/director Joe Scott’s last effort, “My Lonely Me“, this newest undertaking certainly continues to demonstrate the British-based helmer’s knack for uniqueness and artistry, delivering a simply crafted yet finely tuned and diversely emotional narrative that’s part musical and all pure, edgy drama. Having chosen the underlying theme of child abuse and the dark consequences, both in a physical and mental capacity, it leaves in its wake, the film navigates this turbulent ocean via lead character Ingrid’s attempts to overcome the damage done while searching for meaning and genuine love. This doesn’t shy away from looking back at Ingrid’s childhood, but rather with verbally executed finesse and subtle imagery, revisits certain moments that effectively carry the make your skin crawl shock value intended. Lighter moments do get provided, however, plus some catchy music sequences also assist in bringing some minor levity to the proceedings. It all leads up to impactful moments of self realization, healing, and potential release, topped with a gut-punch finale.
In her second performance this reviewer has now seen, actress Sabrina Dickens once again shines, this time as the tortured soul Ingrid. Offering her up as a young woman in conflict, under seemingly endless pressure from her own mind’s mental anguish about a severely painful history, added to by the current circumstances and several sordid people who won’t let her forget it, Dickens infuses Ingrid with a raw gravitas and volatile personality that accurately resonates with the character’s inner dilemma, all while also illustrating the hopes, talents, dreams, and longing for freedom from it all Ingrid is actually seeking, despite the hardened outer shell she presents. Watching as Ingrid encounters hurts and hesitations, then slowly allows certain people in who sincerely wish to help and care for her, only to be yet again faced with reminders of the past and how it continues to affect her actions, Dickens’ portrayal is heartfelt and heartbreaking, one moment fervently passionate then the next nuanced and subdued, but well executed and realistic throughout.
Supporting turns abound here, including the bubbly Shine as Jade, a young woman who lives just enough on the edge to be trouble, yet remains a grounded source of true friendship for Ingrid, Hasan as Ms. Murray, the social worker who’s beyond the call of duty approach with Ingrid yields positive yet sobering results, Altman as Johnny, a gifted songwriter with a heart of gold who becomes one of the few men Ingrid actually trusts, Millar as a French woman whose home Ingrid stay in and who becomes an unexpected confidant, and Ara as Dion, a Frenchman who is enamored with Ingrid. Additional support is provided by Jonathan Burteaux as Al, Jade’s French crush and Dion’s friend, Andy Brophy and Carl Wharton as truly devilish shades of Ingrid’s past and present abuse battles, along with Stevee Davies, Aaron Jeffcoate, the band JOANovARC, and several others.
In total, with its straightforward visuals, story/character-driven emphasis, and moody tone, “Is This Now” stands as a worthy new entry into the indie film arena, willing to showcase the dark side of humanity and its adverse influence while still being able to likewise illustrate there are people who care and wish to help make wounded souls better. Yet, as the film also shows, sometimes that nurturing from others isn’t quite enough to gain the deeply sought deliverance needed to totally placate the fire within. We can only hope more people in this world stand firm against child abuse.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!