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How I Live Now

by Leonard Maltin
November 8, 2013 12:00 AM
1 Comment
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Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

The future looks bleak—yet again—in this adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s young adult novel, which hasn’t much to recommend it except the presence of Saoirse Ronan in the leading role. Her command of the screen, even playing a sullen American teenager, almost makes up for director Kevin Macdonald’s minimalist treatment of a war that forces Ronan and her cousins to go into survival mode, without grownups around to protect them.

The setting is the English countryside, away from London, where Ronan is forced to bond with her young relatives when the going gets tough. But a handsome neighbor truly captures her heart, and it’s that relationship—tested under fire, as it were—that gives the film a romantic angle along with the suspense of eluding an unnamed enemy.

If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be “dull.” I had a difficult time getting—and staying—involved. The child actors do a good job, no small feat alongside the experienced Ronan, but as most of the war-related drama takes place off-screen it becomes emotionally (and literally) distant. Perhaps a teenage girl who identifies with the protagonist and shares her moony-eyed interest in the young hero would feel different. Not sharing that point of view, I can’t honestly recommend this picture.

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1 Comment

  • Scott Huston | December 20, 2013 10:58 AMReply

    I didn't think this was dull, it was a very good adaptation of the novel. True she get romantically involved with her older cousin, but hey it's war. What sets this movie apart is yes the war is only in the background, teenagers Don't win the war in real life, and this is the war though the lens of a 14 year old.

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