Complete A-Z list

How I Live Now


Stars: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Harley Bird, Tom Holland, Anna Chancellor, Danny McEvoy

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Initial impressions can be deceptive... Especially with this film. Rebellious, uncooperative American teen Daisy (Ronan), who goes around under a black cloud, is sent to stay with English cousins at their country house for the summer. Greeted by 14-year-old isaac (Holland), who drives her there in a dilapidated Jeep - 'I've been driving since I was six', he exclaims jauntily - she meets ebullient 10-year-old Piper (Bird), 12-year-old Joe (McEvoy), 16-year-old Eddie (MacKay), the latter being equally uncommunicative, and always-on-the-phone Aunt Penn (Chancellor), who seems to be involved in some worldwide crisis situation.

Naturally, the initially sullen Daisy is drawn into the country life, and falls for falcon-training Eddie.

So far, so conventional, but here's where the film deviates dramatically from what you might expect. A massive nuclear explosion destroys London and its surrounds and a terrorist war begins.

With their aunt away in Geneva, the children retreat to a nearby barn, but are rounded up by military, and the girls separated from the boys.

Daisy and Piper, billeted with a stern army officer's wife, spend their days sorting piles of rotting vegetables in the fields; Daisy soon plans their escape, and packs a map, as the girls flee in search of the boys, encountering some grim, gruesome and hair-raising situations along the way.

Ronan and a decent script carry the film through its various contrivances. Holland is excellent as the sunny-dispositioned Isaac, but the rest of the youngsters are a bit awkward. It's all a mite depressing at times but, considering much of the narrative consists of the girls tramping through woods and fields, director Macdonald keeps things going pretty well, while never shirking the shocking reality of the country's change of circumstance.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by deluxe.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 29 Sep 2013