Review by Sean Boelman
Often films can have the best intentions but fail to make their intended impact because of less than impressive execution of their ideas. The drama If Not Now, When? has a good message and a solid ensemble, but the story and script are far too generic to be anything especially worthwhile.
The movie follows four former friends from high school who reunite after one of them faces a crisis all the while dealing with their own tumultuous personal lives, testing the bond between them. This is the type of story that works best when it tries to show the extraordinary in the ordinary, but Tamara Bass’s script treats these events in a way that is too big.
As an ode to friendship, the film works well enough, even if it is something that has been done more effectively in the past. While the representation on screen is very good — ultimately the only thing that makes this movie particularly noteworthy — it doesn’t result to much because the script is so melodramatic.
The pacing of the film is also very problematic. It’s nearly two hours in length, and a lot of it is wasted on filler. In a basic sense, this is an ensemble drama, but Bass tries to give all of the characters their due. Unfortunately, two of the characters are more compelling than the others, and their development is sometimes lessened in favor of the subplots.
Furthermore, the movie fails to establish an interesting dynamic between the four lead characters. Although the relationship is realistic to an extent, it feels like more of a focus was put on them individually as opposed to exploring their friendship, which is a disappointing choice. It’s sad to see something with so much potential turn into something so shallow and unoriginal.
Bass and Megan Good, who also directed the film, have the two meatiest roles, and as such, give the best performances. Megan Holder and Mekia Cox aren’t as memorable with their turns. However, the chemistry between the four actresses is arguably the biggest letdown, as it is average at best, and this is exactly what the movie would have needed to succeed.
On a technical level, the film is less than stellar. It’s obvious that Bass and Good’s experience is mostly in the acting department because the aesthetic elements of the movie feel like the lowest common denominator. It feels like the film is entirely lacking in visual style, with a very straightforward, point-and-shoot approach.
It is pretty clear that If Not Now, When? wants to be greater than the average melodrama, but it struggles to rise above its generic roots. Semi-decent performances and positive representation aside, there isn’t much to recommend this.
If Not Now, When? hits VOD on January 8.