review: how i live now (2013)

Saoirse Ronan was the selling point to me when scrolling through Netflix for a good movie to watch. To be completely honest, I don’t think I even finished reading the short, vague Netflix film synopsis before clicking play. This might explain the confusion I experienced while watching How I Love Now.

Synopsis (IMDB): An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

So, the film started off ok for me. Watching protagonist Elizabeth/Daisy (Ronan) and following her as she flies and lands in the UK gave me the idea that this was going to be a typical story about a rebellious, troubled teenager who finds solace and transformation in the comfort of her distant relatives, over a hazy, excitement-filled summer vacation. I totally missed the whole war aspect, mentioned at the end of the synopsis. I just remember watching, and then turning to my sister at one point – realizing we were both thinking the same thing. The film REALLY takes a sharp turn about a third of the way in. And then it’s just chaos.

I don’t have too much to criticize on the acting. They all did fairly well. Although, I did NOT get the connection at all between Ronan and her romantic interest, Eddie (George MacKay). This also could have been due to the fact that, as their romance blossomed, I became more and more aware of the fact that they were cousins. But they really didn’t have that chemical pull towards them.

I feel like this film didn’t come across as a good one because it was trying too hard to be different things. First off, there was the whole “chick-flicky summer of love” vibe at the beginning – pulled through to the end where “love” helps her find her way back. Second, there was the instigation of the war – putting the film into the war genre. And third, there was the whole idea of her inner battle, with the voices inside her head that would randomly pop up on occasion, and the pills she took, that were never really tied together at the end.

I feel like this film had a couple of good concepts that could have worked. It also had very nice editing and cinematic visuals. It just tried too hard to be everything at once.

just my rating: ★★½

Other reviews on How I Live Now:
The Flicker Show – Surprisingly Intriguing Tale About Children of War
Ross Birks – How I Live Now
The Village Voice – A Movie About Teenagers (And the Apocalypse) That Should Appeal to Everyone

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