October 24th, 2020
 How I Live Now 
Character: Isaac
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Written by: Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni, Penelope Skinner
Produced by: John Battsek, Alasdair Flind, Andrew Ruhemann, Charles Steel
Other cast: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor
Release date: 4 October 2013
Premiere date: September 2013 (TIFF)
Genre: Romantic drama
Running time: 101 minutes

An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.


Plot

Daisy, a neurotic American teenager, is sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with her Aunt Penn and her cousins, Eddie, Isaac, and Piper. She arrives at Heathrow Airport to tightened security and reports of a bombing in Paris, and Isaac drives to her cousins’ farm, which she discovers to be dilapidated and very messy. Although initially abrasive, Daisy warms to them upon learning that her deceased mother used to stay there frequently. She also falls in love with Eddie, her eldest cousin, finding him to be as introverted and strong-willed as she, and noticing his unusual, almost mystical connection to animals. A few days after her arrival, her aunt flies to Geneva to attend an emergency conference because she is an expert in terrorist extremist groups, and the group takes advantage of her absence to explore their local woodlands.

Their summer fun ends when a terrorist coalition detonates a nuclear bomb in London that potentially kills hundreds of thousands; the nuclear fallout reaches as far away as their home. In the aftermath, electricity goes out, and they learn from an emergency radio broadcast that martial law has been imposed. The next day, an American consular official arrives at the house and offers Daisy passage home. Unable to help her cousins, he advises them to remain indoors and wait for evacuation. After they move to a nearby barn, Daisy and Eddie make love and she decides that she would rather stay with them. The next day, however, the British Army storms the shelter and takes them to a nearby town. There, they learn boys and girls are to be evacuated to separate parts of the country. Both Eddie and Daisy resist separation, and Daisy is restrained with cable ties; Eddie calls to her to return to their home when she gets the chance. Daisy and Piper are taken to the home of a British Army major and his wife, who foster them. Determined to escape, Daisy discreetly begins hoarding supplies, but their neighbourhood is attacked by the enemy before she has time to take everything she needs.

As Daisy and Piper hike through the countryside, Daisy interprets her dreams of Eddie as indications of his current situation. One night, Daisy is woken up and witnesses a gang-rape. She and Piper flee, but after Piper starts whining, Daisy threatens to abandon her. Already disturbed by the prior experience, they discover a massacre at the camp where Isaac and Eddie were taken. Daisy reluctantly checks the bodies; although Eddie is not among the dead, Isaac’s body is. She mournfully takes his glasses and later buries them. As they leave, they are spotted by two armed men, who chase them through the woods. Piper and Daisy decide to hide, but the men discover Piper. Daisy threatens them with a gun and impulsively shoots them both; she kills one and wounds the other. The horror of what she has done, along with her fears, begins to take its toll on Daisy. Later, she realises that they have lost their map and compass, and the girls are on the verge of giving up when they see Eddie’s pet hawk fly overhead. They realise it will lead them home and follow it.

Upon arriving home, their elation turns to horror when they discover that the military garrison stationed there has been massacred; the house is ransacked and empty; only Jet, Piper’s dog, remains. Eddie is not at the barn where they took shelter either, and although Piper is elated to be home, Daisy breaks down in tears outside. The next day, however, the two hear Jet barking, and Daisy runs out into the woods, where she finds Eddie lying unconscious; he has severe burns, gashes, and his eyes are swollen shut. As she nurses him, a ceasefire is announced, electricity is returned, a new government forms, and the country begins to recover. However, it becomes clear Eddie suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is mute. After he accidentally cuts himself while gardening, Daisy tenderly sucks the blood from his cut, which mimics his actions earlier. She kisses Eddie, hoping he may soon recover.


Behind-the-Scenes

Filming for How I Love Now began in June 2012 in England and Wales.

Director Kevin Macdonald had originally intended the cast to be all unknown / amateur actors and actresses, and was looking for an American girl around sixteen-years-old to play Daisy. They ultimately cast Irish nineteen-year-old Saoirse Ronan instead, after reading a scene which left them in tears during her audition.

The first half of this movie was filmed with a hand held camera to give the paradise-like countryside home a sense of humanity, as though the camera was alive and breathing. The second half of the movie was then shot in a more steady and smoother style, in order to make the war torn countryside more sharp and unforgiving, as though the camera was mechanical


Release

How I Live Now first premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, before a wide release on 4 October 2013 in the United Kingdom and 28 November 2013 in Australia. On 25 July 2013, Magnolia Pictures acquired the US rights to distribute the film.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has 66% rating, with an average of 6.23/10.


Trivia

Saoirse Ronan had read with only about ten other boys before George MacKay was cast as Eddie.
Saoirse Ronan wore fake piercings and a bleach blonde colored wig for her role.
In the book, Eddie has Issac’s personality. In this movie, Isaac has Eddie’s personality.
Despite prominent billing, Anna Chancellor has less than five minutes of screentime.
In the book, Eddie picks up Daisy from the airport. In this movie, Isaac picks her up from the airport.
Despite prominent billing, Anna Chancellor has less than five minutes of screentime.


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