Movies / Reviews

How I Live Now TIFF Review


How I Live Now started off with an unexpectedly rocking and upbeat song. As the main character goes through the airport security, you catch snippets of things that seem a bit off. Military personnel are glimpsed on numerous occasions, and a glance at the television shows images of a Paris bombing.

Elizabeth  (Saoirse Ronan) or Daisy, as she prefers to be called, has been sent off to live with her cousins in England for the summer. Her acerbic attitude can be a bit painful to watch sometimes when
up against her wholesome, cheerful cousins. Eventually the countryside charms Daisy and her relationship with her three cousins improves. She also begins to grow closer to the oldest cousin, Edmund (George MacKay).  It’s important to note that they aren’t really blood cousins. FYI.

All is not right however. One of the key scenes of the film is a warm, fun filled river scene juxtoposed with the harrowing aftermath of a nuclear bomb. After that, all bets are off. Idyllic county scenes are peppered with the looming threat (and beghinnings) of World War 3. Eventally, those scenes are gone completely, as Daisy and her youngest cousin Piper (Harley Bird) are stuck together to navigate this new war torn world.  What’s left behind is stark and at times harrowing.

This movie will grab you. It’s emotionally, at times unapologetically stark and beautiful to behold. The acting by all characters was fantastic, and the soundtrack was very fitting.

(I do want to note though, that Daisy’s internal monologue confused me at times, and that I also got the (mistaken?) impression that Emund seemed to be able to read her mind. ) Interestingly, the movie never reveals who the country is at war with.

As someone that didn’t read the book, this film had me at the edge of my seat, hoping for the best. This film was directed by Kevin Macdonald.

The cast and crew were present afterwards for a Q&A, which was great. It was so funny to hear Saoirse’s very Irish accent, and to hear about their favourite scenes. (George and Saoirse both enjoyed the scene where they released a hawk.)

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