Writer: Jeremy Brock, Penelope Skinner, Tony Grisoni (Screenplay) Meg Rosoff (Novel)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, George MacKay, Harley Bird, Danny McEvoy, Anna Chancellor
Plot: 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.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Surprisingly Good
Story: How I Live Now starts as American girl Elizabeth who wants to be known as Daisy (Ronan) heads to England for the summer with her cousins Isaac (Holland), Eddie (MacKay), Joe (McEvoy) and Piper (Bird) in their countryside home but busy Aunt Penn (Chancellor) who does have her hands tied with a potential new world war.
When the unthinkable happens and the war starts with a bombing in London the kids are left alone and Daisy must decide whether to take her ticket home or stay and look after her cousins with Eddie.
Thoughts on How I Live Now
Characters – Daisy starts off like your typical rebellious teenager from America, music loud, wanting to be alone, not wanting to have come to England or deal with younger cousins. When she learns to love the countryside, she finds herself needing to step up and look after the younger cousins when the war starts. Eddie is the next-door neighbour of the cousins that spends most of the time with the family, striking up a relationship with Daisy. He does look to take up the responsibilities once the war starts. Isaac is the eldest of the cousins living on the farm and is happy with the idea of living on the farm until the war comes to them where he gets taken with Eddie.
Performance – Saoirse Ronan is great in the leading role, she looks distant from the family but by the end of the film we see how she wants to be part of it. George MacKay does a great job in the eldest of the kids role where he shows the care needed for the leading role while Tom Holland gives us a glimpse at the talent he was to give us in the years to come.
Story – The story starts off in what you feel is going to be a generic girl goes to stay somewhere she doesn’t but soon becomes happy to stay there, this would be fine but the story stands out here because we then have the idea of war breaking out leave her to need to become the protector of the youngest cousin. This shows how the children, the innocent parts of war will face the hardest struggle to survive it.
Romance/Thriller – The romance is teenage love, which is at times comes off rather annoying but for the sake of the story this is everything you expect it to be. The thrilling side of the story comes from not knowing what has gone on outside of the world we find Daisy in.
Scene of the Movie – The first bomb because it changes the tone of the whole movie.
Final Thoughts – This was a film I didn’t expect too much of going in, but by the end of the film every ounce of my attention was drawn to finding out which ones of the kids will make it home, it what is a drawn out but impactful look at the consequences of war.
Overall: This is an impressively strong addition to the post-apocalyptic genre.