Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

How I Live Now


Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland and Anna Chancellor
Distributor: Entertainment One
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 10 February 2014

When Daisy is sent to the English countryside to spend the summer with her cousins, she arrives as the perfect picture of an annoyed American. Initially the rejection which she feels from her father is taken out on the other children, but they soon get under her skin and just as Daisy is softening world war three breaks out, leaving the children to fend for themselves. When they are separated, Daisy is determined to walk across a war torn Britain to return to the farm...

How I live Now (2013 - 1 hr, 36 min, 58 sec) is an intimately apocalyptic film directed by Kevin Macdonald, based on Meg Rosoff’s young adult novel.

The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Daisy, one troubled young woman. We are party to just how messed up she is by being allowed access to her internal neurotic dialogue with herself. The cousins, Isaac (Tom Holland), Piper (Harley Bird) and friend Joe (Danny McEvoy) do their best to connect with Daisy, but it is Edmonds (George MacKay), silence which seems to be able to cut right to the heart of her, something she finds annoying, but slowly becomes drawn to and her feelings turn from acceptance to love.

Daisy’s aunt is an international negotiator and through overheard conversations we discover that things are not going well in the world and there is an ever present threat of an attack. To be honest the film would have been better if the threat had not been identified as World War Three, given the lack of devastation. The children witness the wind created by an atomic explosion, as well as some fallout, but only London is identified as being attacked.

What follows is the breakdown of civilisation and it is not made clear if this is the result of civil war or invasion. Due to the modest budget much of this is glossed over and to be honest I would have preferred that fewer answers were given. What happened is less important than the effects on the children’s lives and the transformation undergone by Daisy in the face of a world gone mad.

The setup is a lot like an Enid Blyton book, a world almost wholly devoid of adults and the children find themselves in a state of idyllic innocence. Even after the bomb the children survive, until the inevitable intrusion of the adult world. This splits them up and is the catalyst for Daisy’s journey back.

I may be wrong but when the bomb goes off the events appear to happen in the wrong order. With no visual change it can be presumed that they are not close enough to see the explosion, but they get the wind first, then the sound and almost immediately fall out, which seems to be in the wrong order if it was from a single nuclear bomb.

The film brings together its disparate elements, the strong acting from the child actors, the hauntingly beautiful score by Jon Hopkins and the intimate direction of Macdonald to create an impressive whole. Some of the elements of the script seem a bit rushed especially Daisy and Edmonds relationship, which sprints through attraction to sex in almost no time.

Whereas, the first half of the film presents an idyllic view of life, the second half is effectively brutal in its portrayal of a country at war, with random killings and the population living under a fascistic regime. The good thing about this is that we are never told if Daisy and the kids have been taken by the good guys or not, either way their futures look bleak.

The film is presented with both a 5.1 and a 2.0 audio track as well as English subtitles and an audio description track. There a couple of extras on the DVD, including a short Making of (5 min, 37 sec) with the cast and crew talking a little about their characters, but there is nothing revealing here that you won’t know having watched the film. There are also eleven Deleted Scenes (15 min, 36 sec), mostly character moments.

It’s not what you would consider a jolly film and the aspect of Daisy and Edmonds relationship could probably have done with more time, but overall this was a good movie.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

icon icon