re:View – How I Live Now.

Will Pryer contributed to this report.

‘How I Live Now’ is a disturbingly realistic take on an apocalyptic war set in Britain, but will confuse those who are unfamiliar with the novel.

How I Live Now will make more sense to those who've read the novel. Source: FIlm 4, Photo: Magnolia Pictures.
How I Live Now will make more sense to those who've read the novel. Source: FIlm 4, Photo: Magnolia Pictures.

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is an anxious, American teenager who arrives in England to stay with her British cousins, Edmond (George MacKay), Isaac (Tom Holland) and Piper (Harley Bird), whilst being caught in the middle of a nuclear war set in modern day Britain. The film follows her throughout the war and her struggle to be reunited with her family.

It is immediately clear to the audience that there is political unrest within Europe, with announcements that Paris is the target of terrorist bomb attacks. This is reinforced as Daisy travels to her cousins’ house, as military personnel are patrolling in almost every direction.

The film is undoubtedly a very stereotypical interpretation of Britain, thanks to the many camera shots of the English countryside and the well-spoken characters. This came across as rather cringe-worthy in places.

Though the director’s (Kevin Macdonald) camera shots are stunning, they did get slightly repetitive and it would have been interesting to see more urban areas of Britain, especially when the nuclear bomb is detonated.

Daisy suddenly falls in love with her oldest cousin, Edmond. This seems rather random, as there is a lack of chemistry between the two actors and seems irrelevant considering there is a war in the background. And need I mention incestuous.

Daisy is subsequently split up from Edmond and Isaac, but remains with Piper as they are sent to a work camp, where they strangely peel potatoes all day every day.  It is heartening to see Daisy and Piper’s relationship develop, as Daisy takes on a motherly role as they make their way through the countryside.

At times, the film felt very disjointed and ultimately split into two sections: The first section being Daisy’s arrival and her adjustment to Britain and her family; followed by the second section where the bomb actually hits.

There was very limited action in the first section and, though the dialogue was well-acted by Ronan and the other actors, it became stagnated and slightly boring with hardly any action occurring for a while.

The CGI of the bomb attack is scarily realistic, which is sure to grip any audience. Although, there is not enough coverage of the actual bomb and the audience is often left to guess at what is actually going on politically and why. Those who have read the novel would definitely be at an advantage.

‘How I Live Now’ works because of its originality, but lacks in its storyline and clarity.  The film often comes across as disjointed with a few dull moments. If you’re considering watching the film, I would definitely recommend reading the novel first; otherwise you will most likely be stuck trying to work out what on earth is going on.

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