The story plays out over multiple settings, sliding across different dimensions and adapting itself to an ongoing shift in landscape. Is This Now changes quite rapidly both in setting and in the type of characters it follows. Starting in a grey, rainy English town and then sliding into a country estate just outside Nantes, the film is abruptly cut in two. While the setting is different, the film’s mood needn’t be. But director Joe Scott makes every effort in transforming his film entirely – the lighting, the dialogue, the clothes. France, just a short boat journey from England, becomes a different world. This shift is one which moves with the character herself, Ingrid (Sabrina Dickens).
To begin with, the film’s bleak setting fits in well with Scott’s portrayal of Ingrid and the unravelling of her grim past. In the first part of the film, we see just how much this protagonist has suffered at the hands of men, and just what her suffering has turned her into. She flinches at a touch, moves through her grey little world like an angry and frightened phantom. The greyness in a sense represents Ingrid. In spite of this, a few influential people appear in her life: a kind female therapist, Jade, a young and fearless rebel who in a sense reflects the person Ingrid wishes she could be, and Johnny, a band manager who presents the opportunity for Ingrid to vent her rage through song.
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When Jade follows a band to France, Ingrid is left alone. When she receives an invitation to travel to Nantes, she jumps on the opportunity. With this journey from England to France, the film goes from a kind of gritty realism to fairy-tale. She finds a transformed Jade, sophisticated and smooth around the edges. The people she meets here, from a young Frenchman, Dion to the mysterious Angeline, speak and act in ways she can’t relate to. To begin with, she hates it, but as her involvement with both Dion and Angeline deepens, and she finds herself immersed in the texture of her new surrounding, she begins to enjoy herself. In a sense, this new world gives her a chance to confront her past from a distance, and thus grow stronger. This new world in Nantes is so utterly different from what she left behind that she is able to recover herself in ways formally impossible. Scott takes advantage of the change of setting in his story to really emphasise and exaggerate Ingrid’s experience and transformation. This second section of the story also sets the scene for the ending, taking place shortly after Ingrid’s return to England.
The conclusion might also be described as the third part of the story, upon which the film is divided again, into three parts. If the first part was realism, and the second fairy-tale, the third might be best described as a sort of nightmarish thriller. Is This Now is just as interested in dealing with themes such as child abuse as it is with the music included throughout. It is best described as a collection of different genres in one film, in which one can find a coming-of-age tale alongside a thriller, and a fairy-tale alongside stark British realism.
Watch the trailer for Is This Now here: