How I Live Now

Tagged: Film

Film (2013). Film4 and BFI Film Fund in association with Protagonist Pictures present a Cowboy Films/Passion Pictures production in association with Prospect Entertainment. Directed by Kevin Macdonald. Written by Jeremy Brock & Penelope Skinner and Tony Grisoni, based on How I Live Now (2004) by Meg Rosoff. Cast includes Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor, Tom Holland, George MacKay and Saoirse Ronan. 101 minutes. Colour.

A troubled American 16-year-old (Ronan) is sent to spend the summer with her English cousins and falls for the eldest (MacKay), only to be separated from him by the outbreak of World War Three and embark with her youngest cousin (Bird) on a perilous trek to reunite the family.

Rosoff's Young Adult novel is unevenly served in this bleak and anything but teen-friendly adaptation, which pares down the novel's storyline and cast to reduce the action to an extended adventure in trudging. Tonally very different to the novel, it strips away the heroine's voice, resilience, and (especially) humour, as well as ringing some harsh changes on the fates of secondary characters, as an idyllic Cosy Catastrophe modulates swiftly into a cheerless trudge through a militarized Britain that owes much to Children of Men (2006), and stands in telling contrast to the reassuring can-do vigilantism of Tomorrow, When the War Began (2009), though at the cost of most of its potential audience. [NL]

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