Originally shown as part of the BBC's 1995 'Love Bites' season of one-off films (the excellent Loved Up starring Ian Hart and Lena Headey was also from this season) Go Now is a passionate and heartfelt film about the impact multiple sclerosis has on a young man and his relationship with his girlfriend. Starring Robert Carlyle and Juliet Aubrey, Go Now was written by Jimmy McGovern and MS sufferer Paul Henry Powell and directed by Michael Winterbottom. With such talent both in front of and behind the cameras it should come as no surprise to hear that the film went on to win several awards. Available at long last from Simply Media DVD, a pound from each sale goes to The MS Society UK.
Carlyle stars as construction worker and talented amateur footballer Nick Cameron whose life seems further blessed when he meets Karen (Aubrey) on a night out with his mate, played by James Nesbitt - who has less luck pulling Karen's mate, played by Sophie Okonedo.
But cracks start to appear in the happy ever after when Nick starts to experience numbness, double vision and a lack of energy. Several nervous visits to specialists confirm the worst and, as MS sets in, Nick begins to sink into depression as he loses his job, his sport and his libido. Angry at the hand fate has dealt him, Nick begins to lash out at Karen and begs her to leave him. Despite her love for him, will Karen comply with his wishes?
This electrifying film benefits greatly from the unsentimental and non-manipulative approach from the director, writers and the cast. This isn't some Oscar baiting Hollywood production that believes disability is the epitome of acting and a shoo-in for an award, it treats the highs and lows with the same approach, ensuring Go Now isn't the downer you may expect. Indeed, Go Now is often very funny thanks to the laddish humour of the football team and it is also romantic (and more authentic) as any love story. This even handed attitude means we get to know and care for Nick and Karen long before the MS storyline sets in, aided by the superb acting of Carlyle and Aubrey, which ensures the pitfalls that await them come with enough emotional heft for the viewer to invest in. The stakes are high, and the film doesn't shy away from the repercussions Nick's self-sacrifice invokes in Karen's behaviour either in a further example of how far removed from Hollywood Go Now actually is.
Watching Go Now again after 20 or so years is a pleasant nostalgic experience too as it captures something of the mid '90s beautifully. Shot on location in Bristol, it even features a cameo from Tricky in one bar/club scene, and boasts a fine supporting cast of familiar faces from TV of the day. This is a rich film with a direct line to your heart and marked Winterbottom down as a director with an unerring ability to depict emotions and complex situations in a refreshingly honest, realistic way that avoids cliche and predictability.