Please note that this is a capsule review. Our full review is under embargo until the film’s release date, which is October 4th.
Taken from the award-winning 2004 novel by Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now tells the story of Daisy (Saoirse Ronin), a disaffected young American sent to rural England to stay with distant family. The oddball clan is helmed by Aunt Penn (Anna Chancellor), a woman so entangled in her government job that she’s content to let her 9-year-old daughter Piper (Harley Bird) and 14-year-old son Isaac (Tom Holland) run amok in the woods surrounding the estate. The only real parent in the household is 17-year-old Edmond (George MacKay), a quiet animal lover who seems to have a gift for reading peoples’ minds.
When Aunt Penn heads to Geneva on a work assignment, the children are left waiting for their temporary caretaker when a bomb hits London, decimating the city and starting World War III. As the group is forcibly separated by soldiers, they vow to reunite at the estate by any means necessary. Suddenly Daisy is obliged to grow up in a hurry as she cares for Piper and navigates the very adult world of battle and bloodshed.
Director Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) has once again created a film that defies expectations. What starts out as a standard coming-of-age story quickly transforms into a harrowing tale of survival and heartbreak tinged with the dystopian themes that are so popular with the kids these days. It also doesn’t shy away from the brutal realities of war, which makes it a film that will appeal to all ages.
This dystopian coming-of-age tale is an exciting--and occasionally brutal--depiction of war, familial connection and the harsh realities of growing up too soon.