Film review: How I Live Now (15)

AS BLEAK as Hunger Games, as loved up as Mills and Boon, this is a weird young adult allegory about teenage independence, where the psychologically damaged apparently stand the best chance of surviving a transition from childhood innocence to World War Three.

How I Live Now

How I Live Now (15)

Star rating: * * *

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Directed by Kevin Macdonald, Saoirse Ronan stars as sullen American Daisy. Packed off to visit her bohemian British relatives, she has insulted her 14-year-old cousin (Tom Holland) before they leave the airport. However, the warmth of Isaac and his sister Piper (Harley Bird) thaws her ’tude – although the real heat is generated by her cousin Edmond (George MacKay, below with Ronan), who has a tame hawk and can make cows obey his whispered commands.

Daisy enjoys a Blytonesque idyll, until the mother of the family (Anna Chancellor) leaves for Geneva and never returns because a war with an unspecified enemy has begun for unspecified reasons. Even a very self-absorbed teen might be galvanised to learn more about current affairs, but How I Live Now sticks to a frustratingly vague, allusive course. There’s some consequence-free softcore lovemaking, before the army arrive and put the boys in a cadet camp while the girls do some desultory potato sorting on a farm, while Daisy plots to escape. It’s all a bit nebulous, except for its dubious notion that anxiety disorders can be cured by exposure to a good, hard, death-stuffed war. n

On general release from Friday