05th Feb2014

‘How I Live Now’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, George MacKay, Harley Bird, Danny McEvoy, Anna Chancellor, Corey Johnson, Jonathan Rugman, Darren Morfitt, Stella Gonet, Des McAleer | Written by Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni, Penelope Skinner | Directed by Kevin Macdonald


War is something that changes lives forever, whether you be fighting in it or just a citizen.  It rips communities apart and on a more personal level can affect your whole life.  How I Live Now is a film that takes the impact of war and puts it at a very personal level, showing that though you may not be on the frontline lives can be changed forever.

When Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) travels to the UK to visit her relatives it takes her time to open up and enjoy herself.  Things soon take a turn for the worse though when war breaks out and as the family are split up through mandatory evacuation, Daisy finds herself in her own personal battle for survival with her main aim of reuniting with her family.

How I Live Now is very much about war on a personal level, you never really see the full battle with nuclear weapons destroying London and cities being taken, you find out about it when the children do.  Daisy is a character that is very controlled and withdrawn from those around her, and just at the moment she is coming out of the shell she’s created around herself it’s at that moment war breaks out.  The control she has aids her in keeping strong and fighting for those she loves, but the real education not only for her character but for the audience is that war does not play fair, not even with children.

In the first half of the movie I doubted that How I Live Now was going to show any harshness that the war provides and as the movie is obviously aimed at a younger teen audience there are levels which the film really can’t go.  What surprised me though was that even in a restrained way the film pushes the audience into the dark nature of war, making Daisy have to face not only death but the death of loved ones and the harsh realities of what war is.  In her determination to travel across the country to make it back home, and the fact that she takes her younger cousin Piper (Hayley Bird) on this journey is an experience that forces her to grow up.  It’s impressive that the film can go so dark without having to resort to shock tactics.

Even though How I Live Now is a film that pushes the realities of war in the audience’s faces it is also about hope and what it can push a person to.  Daisy never gives up on her fight, even though there is an obvious fatal flaw in what she undertakes, but we do care for Daisy and we hope her belief in her final destination results in what she expects.  Typically of course it’s the journey that is important to her character, and the realisation that control of her own life is not everything when the world outside is fully out of it.

I found How I Live Now to be interesting and liked its style, but I can understand if it doesn’t click with all people.  The way the film disconnects from the actual war and gives a very insular focus on the characters instead of what is going on around them can often seem strange, but to me in a good way.  When we see war on the news or learn about it through history often we forget about the personal impact of the violence, How I Live Now gives a concentrated view on the horrors of war and the psychological impact it can have on the most normal of people.

How I Live Now is released in the UK on DVD and Blu-Ray on February 10th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

Comments are closed.