ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie review: How I Live Now

Updated on October 3, 2013

After The Last King of Scotland picked up an Oscar in 2006 for Forest Whitaker's incredible performance as Idi Amin, its director, Scot Kevin MacDonald, has been struggling to find a rhythm in mainstream filmmaking.

Since then he's only directed 2009's State of Play and 2011's The Eagle, neither of which were more than average.

Can having one of the coolest and impressive talents around, in the shape of Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, star in his latest film How I Live Now, strike a more positive note with audiences?

Elizabeth (Ronan) is a fine example of a troubled teen, but she does have her reasons; she's been sent by her dad in the USA to spend the summer with his sister Penn (Anna Chancellor) and her three children, Edmund (George MacKay), Isaac (Tom Holland) and piper (Harley Bird).

As soon as she arrives she points out to 14-year-old Isaac (who has been sent to pick her up on his own in the Land Rover) that she doesn’t want to be referred to as Elizabeth, but Daisy. She also makes it perfectly clear that she has no intention of either having fun or being fun for her duration.

Back at the countryside retreat, she only has the briefest of chats with her Aunt, before she flies off to Geneva with work; she's a high profile analyst and is needed due the current political climate.

With her away, Daisy and her cousins are on their own until the au pair shows. But the au pair never arrives, as the country is suddenly the target of a nuclear attack. The youngsters soon find themselves having to deal with coping with war, on their own grassy door step.

It's fair to say that McDonald has a good eye for making the British countryside look pretty. What he lacks however, is the ability to create any sense of drama. The premise certainly doesn't help. Sure, the notion of a group of kids learning how to cope with a nuclear attack sounds like perfect fodder for a drama, but it's just not the case here. Instead McDonald manages to make the outbreak of war nothing more than an inconvenience for a far too predictable love story to flourish between kissing cousins Daisy and Edmund.

Imagine 28 days Later without the zombies, and you pretty much have How I Live Now. The first half of the film sees Ronan moping like your clichéd teenager. The second half of the film sees her wandering around various foliage in the hopes of not being spotted by the military or locals. Her motivation is love, but the relationship takes off so quickly it's difficult to take Daisy all that seriously.

You'd also have to be concerned about her father's judgement; the film offers no news as to whether the USA is involved or not, so it looks that Daisy's dad has sent his daughter to a country on high terrorist alert for the summer, which doesn't seem that responsible. Mind you, she is an annoying teen.

If you accept the fact that the central relationship is a bit too flaky, the rest of the film's story soon comes tumbling down.

McDonald gets some sweet performances from his young cast, but that's about it. His film lacks pace, drive and most importantly, a reason to watch it from beginning to end without going AWOL.

3 booms


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Boomuk profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from London, UK

      It is a little disappointing, particularly when you consider the director and Ronan, who is one of the most diverse talents in Hollywood at the moment. Good decision to wait until its home release. Let us know what you think of it when you do see it though, and how it compares to the book, as we'd be interested in your opinion.

    • KarinthiaCeres profile image


      5 years ago

      It seems like your describing the book almost to a T. I was hoping the movie would be a better adaption and more interesting. I will still watch it to compare the 2 but after your review I am happy I didn't spend money to see it in theaters.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)