How I Live Now review

Summer lovin’, had me a blast…

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Six months on from flop Stephenie Meyer adap The Host , Saoirse Ronan makes a renewed bid to become the new K-Stew/J-Law, as the lead in another dystopian near future romance – this time based on Meg Rosoff’s award-winning YA bestseller.

Ronan plays Daisy, a disaffected American teen who tries to drown out the voices in her head with music and medication. Neither work. She arrives in a heavily fortified England to stay in her cousins’ artfully ramshackle middle-class farmhouse.

Despite her aloof act, Daisy is instantly smitten with telepathic cow-whisperer Edmond (George MacKay) and the two inexperienced teens are soon having Hollywood sex in the hay barn. Home alone due to a National Grid-crippling nuclear attack, the kids enjoy an idyllic Instagram-filtered summer… until jackbooted soldiers evacuate them.

At this point, the film lurches from E4 fare into a 28 Days Later / Children Of Men hellhole, with Daisy and cousin Piper (Harley Bird) forced to work the land like immigrant farmhands and live in a new-build.

And then it morphs into Cold Mountain for kids, the girls yomping down the Pennine Way, evading rapey males, in a bid to reunite with Edmond.

Director Kevin Macdonald has been here before, sort of, with The Eagle , and goes all-out on the war-torn portion. But his handling of the almost-incestuous romance feels clichéd, with its sickly score and sun-dappled loveliness.

Whether it’s the use of natural light or the aftermath of the terrorists’ brutality, How I Live Now looks terrific. It also feels like two tales grafted together.

It’s not helped by the dialogue sounding so ‘written’, the young cast acting like time-travelling E. Nesbit characters or the most intriguing elements – the telepathy – being jettisoned.

An odd mishmash of prim’n’grim, then. Close, but no S-Ro.


An Arab Spring-y allegory with kissing cousins and a divine countryside setting, Kevin Macdonald’s fourth narrative film is an awkward oddity, as uncomfortable in its own skin as its protagonist.

Buy tickets now with ODEON - ODEON fanatical about film

Book tickets for ODEON UK

Book tickets for ODEON Ireland