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How I Live Now (2013)

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An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

Director:

Kevin Macdonald

Writers:

Meg Rosoff (based on the novel by), Jeremy Brock (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
3,918 ( 2,282)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Saoirse Ronan ... Daisy
Tom Holland ... Isaac
George MacKay ... Eddie
Harley Bird Harley Bird ... Piper
Danny McEvoy Danny McEvoy ... Joe
Anna Chancellor ... Aunt Penn
Jonathan Rugman Jonathan Rugman ... News Reporter
Corey Johnson ... Consular Official
Darren Morfitt Darren Morfitt ... Sergeant
Stella Gonet Stella Gonet ... Mrs. McEvoy
Des McAleer Des McAleer ... Major McEvoy
Sophie Stanton ... Woman in Truck
Natasha Jonas Natasha Jonas ... Woman in Truck
Nav Sidhu Nav Sidhu ... Checkpoint Soldier
Amy Dawson Amy Dawson ... Beaten Woman
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Storyline

American teenager Elizabeth "Daisy" is sent by her estranged father away from New York to the countryside of England to stay with her Aunt Penn. Her distant cousin Isaac welcomes her at the airport and drives her home. She is introduced to her cousins, seventeen year-old Eddie and young Piper and to their friend Joe. However Daisy is a resentful, needy of love and aloof girl who believes that she is cursed and that bad things happen wherever she goes since her mother died in her delivery. Aunt Penn is a busy woman who is studying the war scenario in England, which is on alert due to an imminent terrorist attack, and needs to fly to Geneva. However, the next morning, a nuclear bomb explodes in London and the authorities of the United Kingdom declare a state of siege. Meanwhile Daisy and Eddie fall in love with each other, but they are separated by the military, which sends girls to one camp and men to another. Daisy and Eddie promise to meet each other again. In a country at war, Daisy... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Love will lead you home.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, disturbing images, language and some sexuality. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 October 2013 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Mi vida ahora See more »

Filming Locations:

Wales, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$28,547, 10 November 2013

Gross USA:

$60,213

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$925,762
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filming began in June 2012 in England and Wales. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Daisy: Imagine yourself being successful.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Projector: How I Live Now (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Neon
Written by Queen of Hearts (as Elizabeth Morphew) and John Myers
Performed by Queen of Hearts
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User Reviews

 
From romantic sop to gritty realism, focused through the lens of pop veneer
17 December 2013 | by GrowMagicBeansSee all my reviews

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is a young, broody, moody, American girl who is sent to stay with extended family in the English countryside. At first cynical about her summer arrangements and outwardly cold towards her jolly hosts, slowly she begins to thaw to their hospitable nature and thus begins to discover something within herself in this new setting – a home away from home. But just as she finds her place in the world, an unthinkable event occurs and everything is thrown into turmoil. In a World War III type scenario, she is taken away from those she now considers family in the first and with only the companionship of her young cousin Piper (Harley Bird), she must journey back across the warn torn English countryside, to the place she wants to call Home.

It's a curious pick n' mix type story that in some ways feels like two genres melded together. The immediate narrative feels very much like a teen 'chick flick', but this is played out over a dark backdrop that at times feels course and close to the bone.

To me, the running commentary of Daisy the American girl, outlining her disciplined set of rules and paranoia, felt a little cheesy in its attempt to force home the difference between English and American culture. So too do some of the romanticised elements of country living, such as the young fourteen year old cousin (Tom Holland) who drives without a license, or the dashing older cousin (George MacKay) who raises eagles and will suck the dirt out of a bloody cut. It's a pity because I felt some of the subtler signifiers, such as the character of the motherly aunt (Anna Chancellor), or indeed the setting of the old country home with it's beautiful but cluttered wood interior and the backdrop of rolling English countryside, spoke a thousand words that other forced elements could only ever hope to convey. In this way I felt the scenario in itself, a city girl living in the countryside, should have been self explanatory.

If you can manage to overlook some of the hammier elements of the narrative, the movie really gets interesting in the build up, and realisation, to war. Movies about atrocities of war generally maintain a degree of separation for the Western World viewer because of differences in geographical location, time or culture. Whereas, where zombie movies may deal with scenarios in a world as we know it, again we feel separated by the fantastical suspension of disbelief that has to be made in order to accept a universe where zombies can walk the Earth. How I Live Now is set in a time, a world, a space that is starkly familiar to our own and so the degree of separation --that this could really happen to us!-- is only a small leap of faith. Indeed, the detached manner of the news reporters add a level of verisimilitude as they sound very much like reports we might see on our own t.v. screens on any given day. And so the rate and horror at which we see State structures deteriorate after the bomb is dropped, can be felt vicariously.

By actually detaching itself from the politics, How I Live Now manages to depict a faceless horror to war that is far more disturbing than if we had all the answers at the ready. We are never quite certain, for example, what spurred the bomb in the first place: if it was an invasion from abroad or a movement from within. Are the government forces that split Daisy from her male cousins simply making poor decisions on her behalf? We are left wondering who the real enemy is, but that doesn't really matter anyway, as soon we learn that even in a war of 'sides', those caught in the middle can only become victims. The pile of bodies that Daisy shifts through is a scene that echoes real life atrocities and dumps the reality at our door. The story is powerful in this way, because even though it speaks through a 'pop' veneer, still it touches upon the human condition. Our heroine cannot hope to change outcomes outright, but rather, in a grim reality, try only to traverse a topsy-turvy environment haphazardly.

So overall, does the movie work? Perhaps not entirely for the reasons I stated above. The over romanticised elements may prove too much for some. Again, we have some Lassie Come Home moments in the later half of the movie which bordered on cheese for me. And yet I can't help but feel drawn to this flick – I have to give it kudos for its attempt to nit 'realism' and romanticism together. It's a quirky number with genuine flavour and thus, despite my criticism, manages to stick out in the mind while other more generic movies fade away from memory.


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