Sunday, 3 November 2013

How I Live Now

My cinema buddy asked my opinion as to what his 1000th cinema experience should be. The choice was this, or Sunshine on Leith. I suggested this but on reflection I think he maybe should have gone with a film with Sunshine in the title.

How I Live Now tells the story of what happens to a group of kids, who are left to fend for themselves after a nuclear attack. New Yorker Daisy (Ronan), is sent to visit her cousins in the English countryside by her father, who clearly isn't going to win any Dad of the year awards. From the moment Daisy hits UK soil, it's immediately clear that the world is on the brink of World War 3. Daisy's Aunt Penn (Chancellor - who has an unspecified government position), is working hard on a peace process, and leaves the kids for a day while she goes to Geneva for talks. As the oldest child is Edmond (MacKay), at 16, Aunt Penn arranges for a neighbour to come check on the children in her absence. When a nuclear explosion rocks London, the neighbour never comes and the aunt is feared dead. The kids look out for each other, with Daisy and Eddie taking care of the younger siblings, and during this time, Daisy and Eddie fall in love. All is well in their little safe haven until the military comb the area for survivors and force the two girls to leave the boys for a "safe house", where they are forced to work but looked after by a somewhat deluded couple. Will Daisy and Piper ever make it back to Eddie and Isaac?

Although How I Live Now is a very realistic and relevant film (and book), it's not the most cheery of topics. Not all films are, and I appreciate the dark as well as the light, but there really is not an awful lot of light in this film, figuratively speaking. Daisy is a very hard character to like. I don't know how she comes across in the book as I haven't read it, but in the film she's just really quite mean and spiteful for the early part and you're never really sure what her motivation is for that. Her cousins, especially Isaac and Piper, are very accommodating to this American brat who has been thrust upon them, and for the most part she just comes across as ungrateful. 

I found this made it even harder to understand why Eddie fell in love with her, I mean first she's his cousin, so that's just all wrong to me. And second, she's not very nice. So their relationship just seemed off to me the whole time. And as that is a massive factor in the movie, her whole motivation to get away from the safe house and back home is to get back to Eddie, I just found the whole movie to be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.

The actors involved were all very convincing in their roles, especially as they are all very young, and most unknown. But their characters just didn't really have a lot of depth. I would therefore only recommend How I Live Now to fans of the book, as I think only those people will understand the characters fully. 5.5 out of 10.

Viewing Date - 6th October 2013
UK Release Date - 4th October 2013

Cast Overview:
Daisy ~ Saoirse Ronan
Edmond ~ George MacKay
Isaac ~ Tom Holland
Piper ~ Harley Bird
Aunt Penn ~ Anna Chancellor

Director ~ Kevin Macdonald
Writer(s) ~ Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni, Penelope Skinner, Meg Rosoff (Novel)

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