I talked about Saoirse Ronan in Violet and Daisy, where she plays an 18-year-old girl named Daisy. Here, she plays… an 18-year-old girl named Daisy. But GET READY, WORLD, because the Daisy of How I Live Now isn’t your typical friendly, respectful, well-adjusted 18-year-old. HELL NO. She’s moody and introspective and sassy and disrespectful of authority.
WOAH. Yeah, she’s a bad-ass alright. Not at all what you’d expect from the lead character in an artsy-fartsy post-apocalyptic teen romance. Saoirse is better than she was the last time she portrayed a maladjusted teenager named Daisy, at least. She gets to shoot a guy, but the guy isn’t James Gandolfini this time around, so it’s sort of underwhelming.
The plot concerns Daisy arriving in England to visit her cousins. As she is predictably drawn out of her shell by ultra-hunky (incest alert!) cousin Eddie (George MacKay), World War III starts and the country is invaded by terrorists. Granted, I haven’t been involved in many terrorist invasion-type scenarios, but the terrorist-to-citizen ratio is shockingly high here. The bucolic English countryside is literally “swarming with enemy units.” Where did they come from? Predictable bad stuff happens, the kids get separated, they have to struggle to find each other again, etc etc. If Twilight thought it was The Road and had more British people, it would be this movie.
I want to touch on two things, the first of which is this kid:
Meet Isaac (Tom Holland). Ugh. He’s absolutely atrocious. He’s the awkward pubescent Daniel Radcliffe of this film. I can’t stand him. He’s “the boy who wears glasses.” That’s the extent of his character. In fact, when he (SPOILER ALERT) gets killed, Daisy takes his glasses, leaves his body behind, and just buries the glasses. It’s supposed to be touching. It’s not.
Second – Aunt Penn (Anna Chancellor).
She’s easily the best part of How I Live Now, despite only being in it about four minutes. Her character is a real mystery: she sits in her study all the time, never interacts with her kids, and has some mysterious government job. On the eve of the terrorist invasion, she flies to Switzerland (abandoning her kids) and never returns. I kept wondering – did she know what was coming? I kept wondering – why do I find her so strangely hot? In a disturbingly furtive way, I imagined that if I walked into that room and Aunt Penn turned around with a cigarette held ever so delicately between her fingers, some crazy stuff would happen. Butt stuff. I also kept wondering if she was secretly the same character she played in the underrated Bill Murray comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little.
Aside from Ms. Chancellor’s scene, though, this movie was too long, too dreary, and had far too many British guys yelling “OY! YEEW!”