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Film / How I Live Now

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"Before the war I used my willpower for stupid stuff, like not eating chocolate. I think I thought if I could control myself, then maybe the world around me would start to make sense. I guess I was pretty naive back then."

A 2013 film based on How I Live Now, a 2004 young adult novel by Meg Rosoff.

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is a cynical 15-year-old with unspecified problems who is sent from New York to the English countryside to stay with her cousins. Living in a beautiful, ramshackle house and blissfully free of teacherly or parental restraints, Edmond, Isaac, Piper and their friend Joey are a wild but gentle crowd, at least one of whom, Edmond, seems to have actual magical powers. Wary at first, Daisy is soon entranced by their small private utopia. But meanwhile the outside world slides towards war. The kids blithely ignore it at first, but horror and violence are drawing ever closer.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: In the book, there was an older brother named Osbert - Osbert was removed and Edmond was aged up to Osbert's age. In the book, Issac and Edmond are twins - this is dropped.
    • Also, in the book Daisy's struggles with anorexia and the health issues that come with it are a large element of her character development and even affect the plot—at first she is too weak to work at the farm until she builds up normal muscle mass. In the film, this is reduced to Daisy not eating meat or wheat, and one line about using her willpower to not eat chocolate.
  • Adaptational Late Appearance: In the book, Edmond is the first of her cousins that Daisy meets when he picks her up from the airport. Here, she meets him later when she arrives at the house.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: The Piper of the film is notably more childish than the Piper of the book. Also, Isaac's personality is completely different; in the book, he's even quieter than Edmond and spends a lot of time watching over everyone, but in the film he's chatty and not at all dissimilar to most fourteen-year-old boys.
  • Behind the Black: We see signs of the Great Offscreen War, and it does affect the protagonists; however we really only see its effects and not the actual war, nor much about who is fighting who or why.
  • Composite Character: The traits of Daisy's three male cousins in the book are spread between her two male cousins in the film. Isaac gets Edmond's role of picking up Daisy from the airport and welcoming her, and Eddie gets Osbert's role as the older "provider" and his initial stand-offishness towards Daisy.
  • Death by Adaptation: Isaac dies in the film, but not the book.
  • Death by Childbirth: Daisy's mother, long before the movie begins.
  • Death of a Child: At Gatesfield, where Issac and younger children were killed.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Elizabeth wants everyone to call her Daisy.
  • Emo Teen: Daisy starts out this way, though at least she's always self-aware and funny about it.
  • Fanservice: During a dream sequence, Daisy runs through the woods nude. (This was actually a 33-year-old Body Double)
  • Finger-Suck Healing: Eddie does this for Daisy when she cuts her finger on a fence, she later does the same for him when he cuts his while gardening.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Joey dies and it's never even brought up in dialogue.
  • Free-Range Children: Before the war the children were pretty much on their own. After the war there is no sign that anyone is checking up on them, either.
  • From Bad to Worse: A number of times, and we're talking about a pretty damaged 15-year-old protagonist to begin with.
  • Heroic BSoD: Pretty much everyone, to varying extents. Especially Edmond.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Daisy's cousins.
  • Kissing Cousins: The romance between teenage cousins Daisy and Edmond is the unapologetic core of the book and therefore also the film.
  • Mama Bear: Initially self-absorbed, Daisy unexpectedly discovers a strong protective streak in herself, especially with regard to 9-year-old Piper.
  • No Endor Holocaust: In a noteworthy scene there is an explosion in the distance and ash from the explosion falls, covering everything. This is all washed away in a rainstorm and their times frolicking in the stream afterwards shows none of the sedimentary mud which would have formed as all that muck washed out down the creeks and streams.
  • Out of Focus: Daisy's Aunt was in Switzerland for the war. She isn't heard from or seen again. If the family got word of her death or has reason to believe she was gone, the audience is never clued in on it.
  • Parental Abandonment: At least Aunt Penn's neglect of her seemingly fatherless children is well-intentioned/accidental. Daisy's father, however, sent her to live with her Aunt and doesn't even call to see that she arrived safely.
  • The Quiet One: Edmond speaks very little.
  • The Determinator: Something else Daisy discovers about herself.
  • Telepathy: Edmond exhibits this.
  • Title Drop: The closing lines of the film.
    After all this time, I know exactly where I belong. Here. With Edmond. And that's how I live now.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Daisy vomits after finding a pile of corpses including Isaac's at Gatesfield.
  • Water Source Tampering: The guerrillas who are the offscreen antagonists have reportedly done this to England.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Daisy's issues and her distant father, which are well explained in the book but glossed upon in the film are essentially dropped once the war begins.
    • Also Piper's "Unicorn" - the goat - disappears and is never brought up again.
  • World War III: A very small, close-up view of it. Daisy's never very clear exactly what's going on or why.