Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Captivating and exhilarating.
Sometimes you want to watch the mainstream films, but sometimes you just want to watch a movie completely blind. Something you never even heard of. This time around, I had the belief in the actress’s ability to deliver. Now, some of you may know what this movie is, but I personally never heard of it. I stumbled across it when looking up Saoirse Ronan, who I think is a fantastic up and comer with a bright future in Hollywood. I decided to give it a stab and see what comes out of it….boy was I impressed. How I Live Now is definitely different than anything else, but in a good way.
Saoirse Ronan plays Elizabeth, aka Daisy in this film. Something unknown happens before the film that forces Daisy to move to England with her four cousins in a country cottage. Her Aunt never really shows up because she’s this big business woman in politics, so it’s primarily just the five kids. When Daisy falls in love with her eldest cousin, Eddie, the world turns upside down. A fictitious World War III changes the very way Daisy and the rest live. She and the younger girl cousin are ripped away from the boys and are forced to live under the care of strangers while the world goes to *bleep*. Her only motivation is to escape and return home to see the new love of her life.
What a movie. It’s weird, yet moving, yet scary, yet exciting, and romantic…and it somehow manages to assemble that all in a clear story that’s not even the least bit sporadic or tangled. It completely makes sense from beginning to end. I was worried when it began, because it was this weird coming-of-age story involving an incestuous relationship. It takes a bit to get used to, because I don’t think the world is ready for a loving consensual relationship like that in a mainstream movie, but you do eventually get used to it here.
This film has two main stories, the first half had to do with self-discovery and transformation. She arrives in England and hates it, and heck…hates herself. She has all of these rules she keeps all the while she keeps to herself and has arguments with so many voices in her own head it is ridiculous. That’s where Eddie comes to play. He helps to show her the potential she has inside, and while the bombs are going off around her, we are able to see this completely different perspective on war. While war goes on, they have the best fun they can while they are able to. So when they are split apart, Daisy clearly finds the need to trek all the way back.
The second half was the journey home after self-discovery, she had to do what was necessary in order to not lose it once she got it. Throughout this entire movie, you see some really striking visuals, I mean it. The movie is beautiful, even if slightly disturbing in aspects, it is done wonderfully. So it’s beautiful to look at. Also Saoirse Ronan has been amazing in almost everything she has ever done. There something about her voice that is chilling in a good way, and her presence is just as alluring. So far, she has yet to let me down in film, because she apparently knows how to pick them.
Here’s my main issue, folks. Unfortunately, Ronan’s character is way too dependent on this Eddie guy. Films shouldn’t teach dependency to young girls. I know, I know, it’s the end of the world, but there’s a whole other “end of the world” scenario going on inside Ronan’s head. She’s paranoid that Eddie’s been killed, but maintains optimism as she continues on her path home…he is her every breath of life, and she even said if he died she wouldn’t want to live…she is clearly needy and has some issues to work out. Part one of the self-discovery was done incredibly well, but she also needs to learn independence. My goodness.
In all fairness, this complaint was rather trivial against the rest of the film. It has its weird moments, but it also has a very realistic feel to this fictitious war. This film could literally end however the heck they wanted it to. I couldn’t predict the ending, and that’s always a positive in my books.
The whole film is really chilling to the bone in its realistic perspective to war, survival, and love. Saoirse Ronan delivers, once again, a phenomenal performance alongside the rest of the cast. I won’t even complain about the political reasonings behind the war. Part of what made this realistic in the first place was the primitive approach to media. There is almost no TVs, but war is going on around them, and you figure it out. That’s part of what makes it great.
I do wish there was some more background information as to why Daisy was even sent to England. I can’t be sure if it’s because she’s crazy or schizophrenic or what, I just wish I knew more of that story. Also, the relationship with the cousin may not be easily accepted by many viewers, which is the foundation for the rest of the film.