Quick Hit: An okay performance by its actors, a decent story, but it flounders in its confusion.
How I Live Now is a zombie movie, minus the zombies. That’s essentially what I felt when watching it. You have an apocalyptic society, where people are seeking refuge. People are desperately clinging to the established normalcy, while others are starting to attack and become violent, and giving into their own animalistic desires. This is a zombie movie, but what’s unfortunate here is that the zombies are just normal people that forget that as a species we work best as a team.
The movie starts with Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), traveling from America to a little cottage in Britain. There may be one scene here with an adult, but the movie is mainly about the young children, and we see her young cousins Issac, and Piper, and older cousin Edmond. After initially rebelling against their ways, she comes around to accept them and wants to be with them. Then, a nuclear bomb goes off, causing the bottom to completely drop out of our little story. The whole troop moves into a barn for a bit, and they seem to be completely self-sufficient, almost like they are living in Neverland. Of course, this little bit of home raising has to have a bit of romance (because this movie is based off a YA novel), and it just so happens to feature cousin love.
cousins for thousands of years before modern taboos came about (because of science, but who listens to that).
Anyways, the movie is at times delicately beautiful. There are a lot of slow, tracking shots, especially in the second act of the film, as Daisy is starting to realize that life could be good here. Ronan does an adequate job with what she is given, but there isn’t much here: the direction seems mixed as to what they want Daisy to be as a character. Do they want a teenage rebel who finds herself? Do they want a young woman growing into herself? Do they want a slightly crazy, schizophrenic person who realizes that life off of their medicine can be a good thing? I don’t know – maybe it’s all of them.
As I stated before, the movie reminds me a lot of a zombie movie. There is one particular film (or two) that comes to mind, and that is the terrific 28 Days Later (and somewhat 28 Weeks Later). Something about the way the scenes are shot, followed by the plot of having to travel across country to a goal is very reminiscent of the way that movie was made. It’s a fitting homage to a film, despite the fact that the final product falls so short.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"