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Friday, 17 October 2014

Bloo's Reviews | How I Live Now

"Before the war I used my willpower for stupid stuff, like not eating chocolate. I think I thought if I could control myself, then maybe the world around me would start to make sense. I guess I was pretty naive back then."
How I Live Now

Today I am reviewing the 2013 movie How I Live Now.


This review may contain spoilers.

It's a British drama based on a novel of the same name by Meg Rosoff. It stars Saoirse Ronan (Daisy), George Mackay (Eddie), Tom Holland (Isaac), Harley Bird (Piper) and Danny McEvoy (Joe).

I was drawn to this movie after seeing the trailer for it back when it was first released. I really liked Saoirse Ronan after first seeing her in The Lovely Bones, and then more recently in The Host. I've seen her in interviews too and she just seems like a really lovely and down to earth person. Plus she's Irish, so she's got a great sense of humour. I was also a big fan of the 2003 film version of Peter Pan, and was excited to see one of the Lost Boys (George Mackay) all grown up.

I have to say I'm kind of on the fence with this film. Meaning, I really don't know how I feel about it. At first I thought I hated it. I'm not sure if maybe I'm just a bit dense, but I didn't really know what was supposed to be happening for maybe the first half an hour. I knew it was leading somewhere, some kind of apocalyptic type thing... but it felt like it was taking forever to get there. To the point I started to wonder if it ever would. I'm not generally the type of person that starts movies and doesn't finish them, but I could see the vagueness and lack of hook at the beginning of this movie having some people abandon ship. I guess for other people though the obscurity may be a hook in itself, wanting to find the light of the end of the tunnel to assuage their confusion. I also wondered if it was less vague in the book, or if this was done on purpose. It made sense in the context of the storyline as you heard little snippets of what was going on and knew it was a war, but you didn't know all the details. The characters also weren't fully sure what was going on, so in a weird way you could relate to what they were going through. Maybe that's just me over thinking things though.

As much as I like Saoirse, her character Daisy left a lot to be desired. I found her very stereotypical and forced. She's basically that grumpy American teenager with father issues, who isn't nice to anyone at the beginning of the movie. The only good quality she had was her dress sense. The movie went on to involve another cliché when she begins to fall for the typically British strong and silent, but nice and sensitive boy, Eddie (MacKay). Who rescues hawks with broken wings, speaks to cows and can see past her front. I mean, we'll totally ignore the fact he's her cousin. It's world war three, anyone is fair game. And so, the power of love completely changes her personality and she turns into a nice, fun person. He shows her how to let go of control, which is basically message of the movie.

I know all I've done is complain about this movie, and it seems like maybe I'm not on the fence at all... but there really were some good points. The setting and cinematography were beautiful. Much of the film was set on a farm in the English countryside. And I don't know if it was intentional, but I'm sure the colour depth changed when they were in the happier times where the colours were rich and bright and the not so happy times where the colours were more drab. I really liked that. As I said before I really liked Daisy's clothing style, and the style throughout the movie in general. Eddie had some nice jumpers I wouldn't mind borrowing.

I felt like the movie escalated quickly at about 50 minutes in. And when it did, you really felt it. I guess in relation to what's going on in the world right now and the threat of terrorism, it kind of made what was happening in the movie seem more real and possible. I personally felt because of that it evoked a feeling of fear in me. Whether or not the movie would have had the same impact on me by itself and without the backdrop of ISIS etc, remains to be seen.

Another small problem I had with the movie was the fact the terrorists looked Arabic. I mean, I just don't think that's necessary and quite frankly a little racist. Especially considering all the main characters (actually, I don't remember seeing any people of colour) were white.

Something else I liked in the movie was the soundtrack. It was really the first thing I liked. A good soundtrack really makes a movie for me, it's basically a gift that keeps giving.

It's real saving grace for me was it's young cast. They were really great, even Saoirse despite her character's flaws. One of my particular favourites was Harley Bird. She was just adorable as Piper, even if she was supposed to be slightly irritating at times like most children. But over all, I thought they were all great and aside Daisy at the beginning of the move, I liked all the characters.

Okay, I wanted to end on a positive but I felt like I needed to add this one other problem I had. I felt the ending to the movie was a little abrupt. It all felt a little rushed at the end. And I find it a little weird that the movie starts during a war, and the terrorists only seem to gaining more control over England throughout the movie... but by the end there's a cease fire. I'm all for happy endings, but gosh. It was quite a turn around.

So yeah. I'm not quite sure if I can recommend this movie or not. Overall I'm going to say I enjoyed it, despite it's flaws. But I'm not sure someone else would feel the same. I'm good at finding the good points in most things. I'd be interested to here anyone else's thoughts on it if they've watched it.


Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Harley Bird, Tom Holland, Danny McEvoy
Rated: 15+ (strong language and seens of a sexual nature)

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