Never Better takes us back to the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic. Terese (played wonderfully by Sofia Bryant) is a young woman with CF quarantined alone until her roommate unexpectedly returns and isn't taking pandemic safety too seriously. Terese is now confronted with heightened anxiety along with a loss of control around keeping herself safe. She entertains and distracts herself with booze, weed and chats with friends but will she hold it together, stay well and make it out of lockdown?
Writer/director Julianne Fox has created a small and personal story amongst two humongous things - a once-in-generation pandemic and experiencing it while living with the chronic condition, Cystic Fibrosis. The film brought it all back to me. Those early days of anxiety, of not knowing what we were facing, of not knowing how serious Covid-19 was for someone with CF.
The use of Terese's internal dialogue in the script allows her to share so much more on screen from witty one-liners to panic and despair. I particularly loved the lines, "I hate being high risk in a pandemic. It feels a lot harder to pretend to be a normal person." The CF community know this all too well. I regularly hear the phrase 'faking being well' and Terese is facing a time when she essentially has to come clean about what it takes to stay healthy to both her roommates and herself. The line, "sometimes I feel like a patient first and a daughter second," also hit home to me. As a parent of a PWCF, I do see a future of feeling like a treatment nag so it's good to get a heads up here to remember that life doesn't always need to revolve around CF—it's not all they are.
Sofia Bryant has the perfect balance of dry wit and emotion as Terese and delivers her performance with authenticity, humour and a lockdown mania that many of us can relate to. Fox, who also lives with CF, has been able to present a 'sick' character in a different light. As a real human with faults, who makes mistakes and who is just trying to navigate this crazy rollercoaster of life like the rest of us.
I thoroughly enjoyed Never Better and not only does it act as an excellent time capsule for the weeks and months of 2020 many of us are already trying to forget, but it also will help others empathise with what vulnerable communities like those with CF were (and still are) going through.
Follow Never Better on Instagram for information on when and where you can watch the film.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.