Film Review: How I Live Now (2013)

How I Live Now (based on the novel of the same name by Meg Rosoff) is a thriller in the same vein as other British apocalyptic films, such as 28 Days Later and Children of Men, that follows the plight of ordinary British citizens as they fight to survive through the chaos of war.

How I Live Now focuses on a teenage girl named Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) who is sent from New York City to live with her young cousins in England. Daisy starts off apprehensive to the situation but quickly settles in with the group and begins a romantic relationship with her oldest cousin, Eddie (George MacKay). And of course, just as everything is going so well, a nuke goes off in England, and the army invades to whisk them all off to work camps, separating the family in the process. The rest of the movie tells the story of Daisy and her youngest cousin Piper as they fight to survive and make their way back home, hopefully along with cousins Eddie and Isaac, whose stories aren’t shown.

If the aforementioned 28 Days Later and Children of the Men¬†represent the best of the apocalyptic thriller genre, How I Live Now doesn’t score as high and exists on a much smaller scale, but it succeeds in its tone of intensity and gritty realism, keeping your attention for the majority of the film. It does have some pacing issues, some of the love story scenes between Daisy and Eddie seem a bit forced, and the narration during the ending was a bit heavy-handed, but overall these are small issues that can be forgiven, as the whole of the film is better than the sum of its parts.

Saoirse Ronan’s portrayal of Daisy can be a bit grating at times, as her character was written to be angsty, but throughout the film she grows on you, and it becomes easy to root for her survival. The other young actors do a fine job, with Tom Holland as Daisy’s cousin Isaac being the stand out once again like in The Impossible.

The film has an excellent score, mixing both pop songs and ambient tracks, and is visually very gorgeous, showcasing the rolling hills and large open fields of the English countryside, deeming it worth a watch for its production values alone. It’s not a perfect film, but I found it to be emotionally riveting, beautiful, and entertaining, and for those aspects I recommend it, especially for those who can’t get enough of this genre.


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