Friday, January 3, 2014

How I Live Now

Here is a movie about a girl and her lover that takes place in a dystopic future which is neither The Hunger Games nor Twilight, the star of which is neither a messianic Katniss or a magic-whatever-thingy-it-is-that-Kristen-Stewart plays. As such, it's a smaller story in scope, disparaged and overlooked unfortunately.

The heroine of our story is Daisy, a troubled American teen who has been shipped off to England by her dad, a fate she's none too happy about. Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Way Back) plays this part to a tee, being a completely unpleasant waste of space.

Seriously, I was starting to worry that this was gonna be an "I'm so unpleasant but you love me anyway because I'm sooo special" kind of thing, but the movie does a fair job of presenting the chaotic thoughts in her head which buys her enough time (with the audience) to develop into something more.

The young man of the house, Isaac (Tom Holland) has caught her eye, and (in the movie's only fantasy element), he seems to be telepathic. They fall in love and then World War Three breaks out.

That'll put a crimp on your summer romance.

Especially when the boy of your dreams is conscripted and you're hauled off to pick food, the war having apparently put all automated farming equipment out of commission.

The bulk of the movie concerns her struggle to get back to her home and Isaac, and her growth into a real, live woman.

Honestly, the war stuff is pretty sketchy. That's okay because it's not about The War. You never see a battle. There is an odd attitude toward authority: It's scary and bullying, but it seems also to be right, ultimately. I suppose that's about right for a young-adult book (upon which the movie is based).

If it's possible for a teen romance involving World War III and a maybe-psychic romance to be low-key and realistic, this is it. Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland) directs, and this movie has a similar feel to his picture The Eagle.

Jon Hopkins delivers an effective, haunting score.

This movie never made it to 100 theaters.

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