Review: ‘Here and Now’ Keeps Viewers at a Distance

Posted November 8, 2018 10:51 p.m. EST

In “Here and Now,” the ruminative drama from filmmaker Fabien Constant, Sarah Jessica Parker is Vivienne, a jazz vocalist preparing to release a new album and celebrate 25 years of performing at Birdland.

If this sounds like a stretch for the actress best known for playing Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City,” it is: Parker is hard to buy as a renowned jazz singer when she performs in a nightclub scene, her vocals fine but lacking the oomph needed to convey lyrics clearly meant to evoke a cathartic moment for the character.

Laura Eason’s script is less interested in musical artistry, however, than it is in the confronting of one’s own mortality. Vivienne’s day (and the movie) begins with a bleak health diagnosis that leaves her stunned. Over the next 24 hours, each encounter with unaware friends, family and colleagues collides uncomfortably with her internal need to process the news.

Parker, whose piercing blue eyes are at once jarring and sad, is more convincing as an intensely guarded woman who keeps most people in her life at a comfortable distance, be it her suffocating (but well-meaning) mother, played by Jacqueline Bisset, or her drummer-with-benefits (Taylor Kinney). (Though there’s a sense that Constant doesn’t fully trust Parker, or even himself, as he relies a few too many times on fussy hand-held camera work and claustrophobic close-ups to convey Vivienne’s disorienting state of mind.)

Sometimes Vivienne’s closed off nature feels unintentionally alienating — rapper-turned-actor Common pops up as Vivienne’s longtime manager, but their banter lacks familiarity. Renée Zellweger (unlike Common, a rare occurrence on screens these days) appears in a single, all-too-brief scene as Tessa, a friend who long ago lost touch with Vivienne. A storyline involving a brusque Lyft driver (Waleed Zuaiter) plays like convenient filler.

It all adds up to a film aiming to be a moving character study (and an ostensible homage to Agnés Varda’s “Cléo From 5 to 7,” a far more vivid exploration of existentialism), but instead feels adrift.

“Here and Now”

Rated R for language and some sex in the city. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes.