Movie review: Teen angst meets WWIII in “How I Live Now”

  • Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
By Columbus Alive
From the November 7, 2013 edition

Being a teenager is hard enough. Being a teenager during the Apocalypse? Like, omigawd!

Director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”) brings both standard teen angst and World War III angst to the screen in his adaptation of the novel “How I Live Now,” and the results are mixed.

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is an American teenager sent to stay with relatives on the English countryside. She’s reluctant at first, but embraces the experiences, especially her cousin Isaac (Tom Holland). Then, as is typical when you’re a teen, just as things look happy, war plunges England in martial law.

“How I Live Now” works more often than not, but I found myself wishing things came together better.

Ronan (“Hanna,” “The Lovely Bones”) continues to establish herself as one of the best young actresses working today, and when things take a turn toward war, the film evokes some of the eerie dread of movies like “Children of Men.”

But (spoiler alert), it is tough to look past a love story involving cousins that’s central to the film, and the scope sometimes feels a little small for the story.

I would file this under “see it for yourself,” though … there may be more to like for you, dear reader.