Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"How I Live Now": An American teen lives through nuclear terror in Britain

Kevin MacDonald’s “How I Live Now”, not in wide release in the US, is a sobering reality check on what could happen to all of us.  The film is based on a novel by Meg Rosoff.

Daisy (Saiorse Ronan) is a teenager, sent to spend summer with geeky aunt (Anna Chancellor) and teenage relatives in a country house maybe 300 miles from London. (The film was actually shot in Wales.)  A precocious teen Isaac (Tom Holland) picks her up at the airport, and soon she takes a liking to 17 year old Eddie (George MacKay).  Her estranged father has sent her away because of family problems in New York.

Daisy learns that her aunt is involved in national security work and will leave on a business trip.  Soon, the kids notice jets flying over the premises.  While out fishing, they hear explosions, and see ash flying over the property like snow.  They turn on the television and learn that a nuclear explosion has gone off in London, apparently some other cities, and that the government has declared martial law.  Soon the power goes off, for good. 

In time, soldier come and, with some brutality, evacuate and separate the kids.  People in more distant cities are expected to take them into their homes.  But in time, terrorists take over England and the entire country disintegrates.  It’s a bad scene.  Stalled cars (from the EMP effect) sit around everywhere.

In the past, I would have put this review on my “Films on major threats to freedom” blog (or “cf”), but I’ve decided to put all commercial films on this one.  Check “nuclear” labels on that blog for comparable films.

The official site (Magnolia Pictures and Film 4) is here
The director, in an interview, explains how the film intersects the “now” world of a teenager with the real world of adults, who have made a mess for their kids.  She also learns how to take care of younger children in difficult circumstances not of her own choosing, She will have to learn to live "in the now". 

The DVD has many extras. including 50 minutes of interviews.  The book author says she is gratified to see her characters speak lines that she did not directly write.
A good comparison is the 1983 film "Testament" by Lynne Littman. 

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