Hampered by a slightly dodgy trailer, the movie of How I Live Now doesn't seem to have made much impact at the box office, but I urge you to see it before it vanishes from the big screen. It's a masterpiece.
Simply put, it's a tale of teenagers surviving World War 3. Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is the obnoxious American cousin visiting her family in England and who is there when London gets nuked and the war begins. The kids are safe out in the countryside, but nonetheless the impact of the distant attack is brilliantly evoked and immensely chilling.
What ensues is a nail biting story of love and survival, with romantic and elegaic intervals set in a rural paradise. I was astonished at what a fine film it is. Unbearably suspenseful, terrifying, moving and very beautiful. Director Kevin Macdonald seems to have studied the early work of Nic Roeg, especially Performance (particularly in the performance — no pun intended — of the little girl Laranie Wickens, which seems to be echoed in Harley Bird's performance in the new film).
As with Nic Roeg, the use of imagery is stunning and unforgettable (the cinematographer here is Franz Lustig) — as is a harrowing sequence of foxes skulking around an apparently deserted military installation. I doubt I'll ever get that out of my head.
The cast is first rate, especially Saoirse Ronan, of course. I like to think she got her experience using a gun from Hanna, another classic movie she starred in.
The excellent screenplay for How I Live Now was by Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni and Penelope Skinner.
Go and see this film.
(Image credits: The poster is from Ace Show Biz. All of the stills are from Saoirse Ronan Info.)