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How I Live Now– Movie Review

Submitted by on November 13, 2013 – 9:00 amOne Comment
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Young Adult romances are really popular now (Twilight). So are stories about troubled teen protagonists (Perks of Being a Wallflower, Speak). So are stories of teen heroines in post-apocalyptic survival scenarios (Hunger Games, duh). How I Live Now, based on the YA novel of the same name, offers a not-very-inspired riff on all of these. But it’s dressed up nicely and features a great lead performance from the precociously talented Saorise Ronan.

Ronan plays Daisy, a jaded American teen shipped off to live with her cousins on the eve of a global war with “the terrorists.” There, she quickly falls for the eldest, Edmond. When nuclear weapons are set off in London, the children are left by themselves. The military shows up and forcibly separates the boys and girls, but Eddie tells Daisy to return to the family home no matter what. As the conflict worsens, Daisy escapes with her young cousin and tries to hike home, convinced that Eddie is already there.

Everything that’s supposed to be affecting seems kind of rushed. Daisy’s relationship with Edmond would be perfectly believable as a teen fling, but as an all-consuming, life-motivating passion, it’s unconvincing, even by teen romance standards. (It’s also incestuous; but hey, it’s England and the end of the world, so whatever.) Daisy also appears to hear voices, which is suggested to be OCD, but could just as easily be schizophrenia. Her struggle to overcome the “rules” in her head seems superfluous and vague, as it’s resolved halfway through and not as important as the pending survival challenges. The war itself is also too vague to be meaningful, with “terrorists” and random shooting with no real sense of what is at stake.

But director Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland) creates a fresh style by dropping punk music, teen angst, and choppy, high-energy montages into the rural and suburban survival tale. The result is sometimes unexpected, like Juno meets 28 Days Later. And Ronan is wonderfully unapologetic as the bratty Daisy, even when the character development is abrupt.

Did you see How I Live Now? What did you think?

 

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