Spencer King’s Time Now tracks the grief-driven descent of Jenny (Eleanor Lambert, the daughter of Diane Lane & Christopher Lambert), a young mother forced to reopen old family wounds after a tragedy brings her home. Eleanor’s family is Detroit-born and -bred, but she left them all behind when, wanting nothing to do with them, she and her husband moved north. Unfortunately, Eleanor’s husband cheats, and she’s miserable, secluded and alone. It’s a lousy life she leads, lousier when she gets the call that Victor (Sebastian Beacon), her twin brother, died in a car accident.
Back in the city, Jenny reconnects with her family to mixed results. Her mother, Joan (Claudia Black), resents her. Her father, Geoff (Peter Knox), is less harsh. Her aunt Helen (Jeannine Thompson) does her best to help Jenny and watch her son, Andrew, while Jenny tries to piece herself together. She finds herself connecting with Victor’s friends and coming to learn he had a thriving life in the local arts scene under the pseudonym Gonzo. Victor’s friend Kash (Xxavier Polk) and a girl named Tanja (Paige Kendrick) help Jenny more deeply understand her brother’s world. Soon, though, she starts to suspect the car accident might not have been the whole story behind her brother’s untimely demise.
Time Now is billed as a thriller. There’s a gun introduced at the start that does eventually go off, a murder-mystery and some psychedelia to make the audience questions Jenny’s mental state. However, there’s not much that’s thrilling for most of the running time. It’s a dirge of sorts, a bleak and unsparing look a woman at the end of her ability to handle everything life is throwing at her. She wants to find a purpose in Victor’s death partly because she doesn’t want to believe he’s gone, but mostly because she feels she failed him. Where the story goes is, admittedly, shocking and fresh. But to call it thrilling? I don’t know if that’s the right word. “Compelling” would be more accurate for its high points.
That said, there’s a lot of Time Now that doesn’t quite sing — well-meaning monologues in the front seats of cars, church sermons, sudden lapses into spoken poetry performances. There’s a lot going on and it doesn’t all gel from moment to moment. Despite the best efforts of the cast, it’s a fairly thin story without much in the way of B-plot to accompany Jenny’s downward spiral. It’s her show — and Lambert does a good job in the role — but by the end, my emotional state was closer to exhaustion than anything else.
On balance, the willingness in King’s script to take Time Now in an unconventional direction in its final moments makes the more frustrating moments of the film worthwhile. It’s certainly well-cast, mostly well-shot and, in its best moments, not what you expect.