How I Live Now {2013}

This movie follows the life of Elizabeth (Saoirse Ronan), a girl with a bad attitude who likes to be called Daisy. One summer in the future, Daisy is sent to live in the English countryside by her father with some cousins she has never met. Whilst she is there, these carefree family members manage to break through the walls Daisy has built. When the war that had been inevitable finally breaks out, Daisy is dragged away from her new family and love. She will do anything to get back though. Personally, I found this film to be an ominous warning. The time that this film was released fits perfectly with events in the news and I believe that helps in conveying the chilling message and tone of this film. I have never read the book but after watching this film I cannot wait to.

WARNING: Spoilers from this point on

When Daisy arrives at the airport, within 5 seconds it is clear she is a teenager that will be bringing all kinds of moody to the table. Her punk outfits and dark makeup represent a character that is tough and not afraid to show her lack of interest in being there. Looking at her though, all I could think was "Damn, those clothes are awesome". Meeting Isaac at the airport was hilarious as a 14 year old drove her to the country house. Isaac was this adorable character who obviously believed in the good of the world.Him being played by Tom Holland was a bonus. I loved him in 'The Impossible' and he did not disappoint this time around.

The house the story seems to revolve around is paradise. After a week I would think it would become boring if you grew up in a city. Also all I could think was no wonder she didn't get a call from her dad. Take it from someone who has holidayed in the middle of nowhere, there is no way she would get signal there. When the mother, Aunt Penn, leaves to deal with war related matters in Geneva, the kids are left to roam free until Sally arrives. I think the director got the day perfect for what was to come. That day made the forest seem like a paradise and helped the audience understand why Daisy was so desperate to return. Also, the love story was my ideal summer romance. Obviously mine is not with my cousin, which I surprisingly did not find that weird in this movie. There were a couple cheesy bits in there about her dying without him but they are acceptable because they helped with creating a desperation for the character later in the movie. 

My emotions once World War III effectively broke out was paranoia. The story was so relevant to conflict in today's society that I found it hard not to relate the film to real life. As the cousins were separated, and decided they would get back to the house, I couldn't help but wonder where this story would go. Surely circumstances of war would not allow them to live on their own with terrorists roaming about. Thinking there could be no happy ending in the beginning did not help when things took a nasty turn. 

What I also liked about this film was how they did not produce what society today thinks of a "terrorist" as. There were multiple groups of the enemy shown, some were English and some were not. The graphic scenes of women being basically forced to act as the bad guys slaves was not a pleasant sight. Watching a woman sob her eyes out before being beaten when she tries to escape also wasn't, but graphic scenes like that separated the film from the usual love story because usually the characters endured a little heartache. These ones endured a lot. 

My emotions did not ease as the film progressed. I don't think I have ever been so tense and on edge for so long during a film. It was genuinely unclear how this story would end. There were too many variables. When she walked into that farm and found those bodies though, I knew we were in for some bad news. As she ripped open Issac's plastic bag and showed him with his eyes still open, I reacted the same way the character did. I didn't cry or blubber but was shocked into a state of sadness whilst being left with a slight hope that Daisy's love interest Edmond was still alive. 

The ending to this film left me torn. It was both a happy and unhappy ending. Our lovers are reunited but one is in a state of grief and shock. It is unknown to the audience what happened to Edmond but according to Daisy's dialogue that she is not going to ask, it was something horrific. The title of the film is explained at the end, also explaining the notebook Daisy was carrying was a  diary of their story. It leaves with an open end which reflects life really as the struggle continues after the cease fire.

Saoirse Ronan gave a truly intoxicating performance. Not making the character a crying mess but a numb wreck, which is so much more powerful in this kind of film. The supporting cast also held their own in this film which was refreshing and enhanced the viewing experience, even drawing attention away from the main character at times.

The directors use of voice overs to symbolise Daisy's inner struggle with being in control to avoid being hurt was an incredibly effective technique. At first it was confusing but as Daisy's eating habits and OCD hand washing were shown it became clear. I think this will somehow reflect the narrative of the book and when I read it I will look out for it.

There where some narrative gaps in there though. What happened to Aunt Penn? Does Daisy no longer care about her father? They seemed to forget about minor characters that were a little bit important to other characters.

A truly unique viewing experience which had a relevant storyline and some stunning cinematography.

Rating: 4.6/5


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