How I Live Now (2013)
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Based on How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Running time: 101 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.
I watched this movie having no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about it other than reading the plot synopsis online. It sounded like it could be a cheesy YA post-apocalyptic romance as it’s based on a YA book (that I’ve actually not read! Thought I’d read that entire genre). No, this movie isn’t exactly cheesy. It has a more serious tone than I was expecting and is more like a weird combination of the original Red Dawn (not that awful remake – Chris Hemworth’s hotness couldn’t even save that) and that SUPER DEPRESSING British TV movie Threads (I don’t recommend that one – bloody hell!). But with a love story thrown in, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how convincing the romance really is and Saoirse Ronan’s character is hard to sympathize with, even after seeing the hell she goes through after war breaks out while she’s in a foreign country. Well, foreign to her – she’s an American in the UK. Like me!
First of all, I’ll say this movie is very “me” as I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve read most the YA novels in this genre, I did a list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies (HERE), and the only story I’ve ever written in my life was about a group of teenagers who’ve survived an apocalypse (it sucked, of course – I’m not a writer). This was years before this & all the “dystopian future” YA novels were such a big thing & I love that it’s such a huge genre now (even if it IS getting a little old it’s still better than Sweet Valley High). Anyway, How I Live Now feels much more realistic than the future we see in movies such as The Hunger Games & The Maze Runner. It’s set now (I believe) instead of some unspecified future and very much feels like something that could happen at any moment. I think this makes it a much more powerful movie. It may not be as “entertaining” as The Hunger Games but it feels a lot more grown-up than other YA stuff, which is something I really liked about the film.
However, I unfortunately found it really hard to relate to the characters – especially Saoirse Ronan’s “teenager with issues & an attitude problem” Daisy. She’s very neurotic before the war breaks out & she does learn to stop worrying about all the superficial things in life that really don’t matter after London is bombed but she still comes across as very selfish since all she seems to care about now is being with the boy she’s fallen in love with since coming to England. Or should I say… her COUSIN?! Did I miss something? Anyone who has seen this feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but… they’re cousins, right? Like, possibly first cousins? I know they don’t say what her exact relationship is to them through her mother but that’s a little weird! Anyway, I had no issues with any of her cousins. The young girl named Piper (who I found out is the voice of Peppa Pig after watching this. how did I not notice that? I hate Peppa Pig!) and a boy named Isaac are both very sweet but Eddie, the one Daisy falls in love with, doesn’t have much of a personality. I can’t help but feel that these two main characters are probably MUCH more developed in the book. I think the movie really doesn’t do a great job fleshing these two out so I may read the book now as I really liked the story. If they’d done a better job with the main characters, I think I’d have liked this movie a lot more than I did.
How I Live Now may be based on one of a myriad of “post-apocalyptic YA” novels but has a more serious & realistic approach and feels much more grown-up. I liked the tone of the film and found the soundtrack very interesting. Aside from Nick Drake, I’ve not heard of any of the artists on the soundtrack which is unusual for me – It’s cool to hear some songs I don’t already know in a movie. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed & I didn’t feel like I knew anything more about Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy at the end of the film than I did at the beginning. I think it would be worth reading the book first to really understand Daisy’s feelings & motivations. It’s a good story overall but I’m thinking it just didn’t fully translate to film. If it sounds like something you might like, I’m going to recommend reading the book first even though I have yet to read it myself. I just think it’s likely you’ll get to know far more about the characters than you do in the movie.
My Review: 6.5/10
Nothing will turn me off to a movie faster than the letters “YA.” Or the letters “XXX.” Yuck!
Yeah – I hate Vin Diesel!
Hmmm! I’ve always wondered about this one as I like Kevin MacDonald. Not quite sure if I’ll like this as Young Adult stuff tends to bore the shit out of me but this sounds a bit more interesting.
Yeah – I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to put the “YA” thing in there. I had to look up the book to make sure it’s actually considered YA! Obviously, the main star is a teenage girl so it’ll appeal more to that age range but it’s not really like the other Young Adult stuff out there. MIGHT be worth checking out if you like the director. 🙂 I’ve not seen any of his other films…
This totally sounds like my type of movie!!!
On another note – I’m not jealous you got to see this before me.
You’d LOVE this one! Rent it NOW!!!! ; )
I just did!!! I’m watching it for the third time already!!!!
Yes, they are cousins. All throughout this film I was thinking, “Whaaaat?” The issue is never really addressed though, taking a back seat to surviving the apocalypse. Which, I suppose in itself, is realistic. Agree with this entire review! Great stuff. 😉
Yes! I was pretty sure I didn’t have it wrong that they were cousins but, like… Ew? I have cousins and… Ugh. Just… Gross! *puke* Thanks once again for agreeing with one of my reviews! I love how right we are on everything. Lol ; )
I liked this quite a lot more than you did… but yes… cousins…
Lol. I know! Cousins!!! Ew…. Yeah, I don’t know – I DID like it but at the same time I didn’t really like the character of Daisy. I’d like to check out the book now.
Dating cousins is frowned upon? I mean, I grew up half an hour from Kentucky, soooo…
Kidding. SO kidding. Hahaha. Sounds…awkward. I’d heard of this one, but I didn’t really know anything about it. I believe I’ma skip it. Nice review though, lady! 🙂
Hehe. Cara & Kissing Cousins! ; )
Thanks, Cara! Hehe – we both grew up fairly close to those “Kissing Cousins” areas. I bet Eric knows some Kissing Cousins! ; ) All that weird cousin stuff aside, this movie isn’t bad. I just REALLY wanted to like the characters more. Harder to care about the main characters when you don’t like them.
Yeah that definitely doesn’t help. 😦 I think we might’ve shocked Zoe with that cousin stuff!!! Hahaha. Also, WP won’t let me comment on the ACTUAL comment, so I’ll say it here: Cara & Kissing Cousins sounds like the creepiest bluegrass band ever…bahahaha.
Takes an odd turn about half-way through, but found it to work in the movie’s favor. As it went from sappy teen-romance flick, to something more desperate and dark. Which was nice. Good review.
Thanks! : ) Agree that the dark turn was needed. The second half of the movie was much better than the first!
hmm. sounds interesting, yet also sounds weird.
what do u think? should i see it?
Hmm. I’m not sure! It’s an odd one but I don’t think you’d totally hate it. Might be worth a try! : ) I liked it more than it sounds – just a few things were weird and didn’t quite work for me…
Great review lady. In my opinion, ANY cousin is off limits. ANY COUSIN. I repeat, for final measure, ANY cousin.
Hmmmm, maybe I will check this out someday. I actually hadn’t heard of it until your review, so we will see.
Thanks, Zoe! Lol – yeah…. I have lots of cousins & the thought of, well, doing what these two do in this movie… Um. *PUKE!* I wonder if the cousin issue is addressed in the book. You should read the book first! You’d be able to finish it in no time. I AM curious about it – it could be really good. Has good reviews.
Hey Mutant, great review. I saw this on Netshits and thought it was pretty boring considering it features an APOCALYPSE. The main girl was so angsty and self-involved (as only a teenager truly can be) and [rolls eyes] urgh, so annoying. Definitely won’t be watching this one again.
Lol! Yeah…. I thought she’d be changed after that big “apocalypse” but she was still a little bitch, really! 😉
Plus – cousins? Apocalypse or no, that’s just gross.
Bwahaha. I know! NASTY! I honestly thought I must have heard wrong & that the boy she HAD SEX WITH wasn’t actually her cousin. Hmmmm……
Apocalypse or no, that’s just wrong.
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