How I Live Now Blu-ray Review
Saoirse Ronan plays Daisy, an American girl who for some unknown reason is sent to live with her English cousins on their beautiful countryside farm. Daisy is in that typical eye-rolling stage of life where she wears excessive makeup and is too cool to participate in anything or pretend that she likes anyone. Her cousins include Piper (Harley Bird) the youngest, Isaac (Tom Holland from THE IMPOSSIBLE) and the eldest who looks like he came from the Weasley clan, Eddie (George MacKay). But when WWIII breaks out, the kids must learn to survive without the luxury of electricity and outside society. This proves to be rather simple when living in a remote area with breathtaking landscape and natural water springs. After a montage of the kids living up their new found life and Daisy dropping her guard as she and her cousin Eddie fall in love, the military comes and divides the boys and girls up. They vow to escape and find their way back to each other, which proves to be a dangerous undertaking fighting for survival in this scary new world.
HOW I LIVE NOW is based on a novel by Meg Rosoff, which, without reading, I can only assume has been chopped up rather haggardly. While the idea of the story is interesting, the film itself is messy, rushing all the action through silly montages and half hearted set ups. The film opens with chatter that seems to be happening within Daisy’s mind and continues touching on that aspect throughout the film. While her thoughts change focus, first concentrating on a superficial routine then flipping to the necessary structure of survival, the technique really had no greater impact to the overall theme of the film.
The other subplot that leaves the audience scratching their head is Eddie’s ability to talk to cows, fix birds and heal a bleeding hand with a kiss. This supernatural element is hinted at and almost coincides with Daisy’s heard thoughts, but then is discarded and never touched upon again. Either embrace it or cut it, otherwise these elements become a big distraction as I foolishly waited for them to come back around with some relevance to the overall story.
The cinematography is exquisite, capturing the mood of the film throughout. HOW I LIVE NOW keeps the tone within the images. Following Daisy, things are a bit disjointed and disoriented but as she eases into life with her family and experiences love, the world opens up with vibrant beauty and color. However, once the family is seperated, the color palet goes cold and muted as their fight for survival feels just as hopeless and desolate as the environment around them. Unfortunately, the editing and story telling process of the film does not convey the same susinct view as the visuals.
Saoirse Ronan is a talented actress, but she has recently taken on a batch of films that are subpar. The rest of the cast does a great job as well and the idea of these kids left to survive during modern wartime is interesting. However, the overall execution of the material simply isn’t compelling. HOW I LIVE NOW is frustrating in its delivery, relying on beautiful visuals rather than character development to effectively involve the audience.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 1.85:1) The picture is quite stunning adjusting the color palette to match the mood of the film.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is decent but I found some of the dialogue a bit difficult to hear at times.
Deleted Scenes (4:58): Three scenes that can be watched separately or using a ‘play all’ button. The scenes include: Daisy confronts Eddie, Daisy questions the major, and Church.
Interviews (53:10): Another ‘play all’ button can be used on these rather lengthy interviews which include: Kevin MacDonald (director), Charles Steel & Alasdair Flind (producers), Saoirse Ronan (Daisy), George MacKay (Eddie), Tom Holland (Isaac), Harley Bird (Piper), Danny McEvoy (Joe), and Meg Rosoff (author).
Behind the Scenes Comparisons (6:17): This is kind of neat comparing a few of the scenes with the behind the scene footage of the scene, including: Airport Scene, Riverbank Scene, Bonfire Scene, and Separation Scene.
AXS TV: A Look at How I Live Now (2:57): A typical trailer/promotional piece.