If Not Now, When?, 2021.
Directed by Tamara Bass and Meagan Good.
Starring Meagan Good, Meagan Holder, Mekia Cox, Valarie Pettiford, Tamara Bass, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Schmid McKinley, Freeman Niles Fitch, Todd Williams, and Lexi Underwood.
Four friends, who met in high school and are bonded by an event, are suddenly forced back together when one of them suffers a crisis. It’s a story of love, forgiveness and the incredible bond between women.
There’s mixed messaging all over If Not Now, When?, a narrative that initially seems designed to promote female unity, independence, and empowerment but in execution turns out to be a series of sequences revolving around each character to check up on their relationship woes or new blossoming love. It’s also not a case where the characters necessarily feel selfish, but for a movie about four women reuniting following a crisis and attempting to reconnect, it’s often too disconnected and separated into individual stories that on top of everything, are mostly boring.
Directed by Tamara Bass and Meagan Good (with only the former writing the script whereas both ladies also have major roles), if there’s an anchor to the story it’s Tyra (Meagan Good) overdosing on pills she has unfortunately become addicted to after a tragic accident, reluctantly checking herself into a rehab facility at the pressure of her husband, friends, and one supremely conflicted daughter named Jillian (Lexi Underwood, giving one of the only real noteworthy performances in the movie) that’s angry at her mother. She’s not just mad because her mom has succumbed to addiction, but more so for the traumatic effects at the hands of being the one to discover her passed out on the floor and having to ring the ambulance. When the dynamic sticks to mother and daughter working to understand, better, and forgive one another, If Not Now, When? isn’t half-bad if still underdeveloped and all surface value drama.
It’s the rest of the movie that frequently frustrating to sit through, with Suzanne (Mekia Cox) having a perfect world shattered carrying the child of her football star husband that can’t stop cheating on her. There is no love to be found here, reaching a point where another love interest gives her an ultimatum to lose the deadweight if she ever wants to be with him and have something healthy. Again, all of these beats are touched on with little momentum or excitement and are usually overacted with bizarre and out of place musical choices that destroy whatever could possibly work for the scene in the first place.
The other friends have arcs involving starting a relationship with a doctor, with another letting a former flame back into her and her son’s life years after dipping on the family. Awkwardly, there are at least two sequences of characters preparing for dates where we don’t actually see the dates themselves. However, there is some equally awkwardly edited sex set to more cringe music following one of them. Between all of this, Jillian is attending dance lessons as a form of therapy, and learning more about herself, making a potential boyfriend while getting bullied by the other students.
It goes without saying that there is a lot going on in If Not Now, When?, with the script placing these various characters at their own separate crossroads practically daring them to choose the route for a more fulfilling life. The problem is a simple case of doing so much that nothing actually emerges as worthwhile aside from the brief moments when these women do actually come together, which is usually inside a rehab center to further help their friend. Speaking of that, If Not Now, When? actually starts off 15 years ago with the four as high school friends bound together by a different kind of surprise event altogether, with the present-day looking at how Suzanne abandoned her friends to chase the ideal life such as career success and a family. This too ends up adding nothing; you could probably make the same movie without that prologue. It’s still not as eye-rollingly cheesy as the final scene.
It doesn’t really surprise me that Meagan Good only has directing experience in TV, because this feels like a made-for-TV movie. The only question is if not now, when will this be available on the Lifetime channel. Most likely soon.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com