Shrilly over-written and artlessly directed by Philippe Diaz, and with the same presumptuousness he brought to the documentary The End of Povery?, Now & Later follows stilted talk with stilted sex. The story is structured as a series of transactions between its two leads, a disgraced banker on the run from the law, and an illegal Latina who agrees to help him leave the country. These archetypes, more like Pavlov’s dogs, depressingly lecture each other on the politics of sex, money, and personal freedom, then proceed to fuck like bunnies. “What went wrong with the banker?” asks the fiery Latina to the white banker early on, to which the poor guy responds, “Ambition. Need for power…I made a big hole in the bank,” after which she allows him to make a deposit inside her. Rinse, then repeat.
A sad sack antipathetic toward everything, Bill is played by a possibly lobotomized James Wortham, who stares across rooms at the naked Angela (Shari Solanis) as if he were trying to make out the letters on a distant street sign. The actor doesn’t exude much more dynamism when Solanis sits on his cock, possibly for real, but we may consider—if one wanted to be so kind—Wortham’s comatose performance a defense mechanism against the wearying thuggishness with which Angela, a PEZ dispenser spitting out endless, highly exclamatory fortune-cookie wisdoms, serves as an enlightened third-world preacher teacher for the disgruntled, repressed white man who tried to mess with capitalism and was screwed back. If he wasn’t just as annoying as she was, you’d think he was fucking her just to get her to shut up.
“What do you feel right now?” Angela fishes at one point, to which Bill answers “arousal”—not “horniness” or “annoyance by your incessant questioning” (that would be too credible a response). His clinical reply, though, is logical for a film that begins with a quote by Wilhelm Riech (“A sexually repressed society will resort to violence”) and whose main character speaks as if she were one of his disciples: “Free love is the only true love,” Angela tells Bill after he doesn’t let a threesome get past the point where he strokes another guy’s boner. He goes further than most, but his rejection of the cock doesn’t suggest gay panic (or maybe it was intended as such and Wortham simply can’t convey that sort of fear), only a response to a sex scene every bit as inert and contrived as the movie that contains it.