Whilst I was at home over Christmas, one of the things I tried to do was watch the stuff available on UK Netflix that I really wanted to see, and wouldn’t be able to watch once I came back to the Netherlands. One of the first films to catch my eye was How I Live Now, based on the book of the same title by Meg Rosoff, and which I never got round to seeing in the cinema.
One of my first thoughts was how stunning the cinematography of the film was. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous – the film is shot in Wales, despite being set in the south-west of England (Devon I believe). I pretty much fell in love with the farmhouse, and apparently you can actually stay on the land but not the house itself. The wonderful shots of idyllic countryside are a big contrast to the wartorn landscapes that come later in the film.
Daisy is soooo much more of a bitch in the film. She doesn’t seem too bad in the book, but in the film she is just plain mean. However, there seem to be several elements to her character that weren’t in the book – hints of an eating disorder, mental health issues – which could explain her very defensive behaviour. She seems to be afraid of people making fun of her or ignoring her, so she doesn’t give them the chance. She shuts people off, but in terms of the film it really gave the character of Daisy room to grow and develop, as she gets closer to her cousins and starts to enjoy her new life – at least, for a little while. In fact, apart from Piper, all of the characters were quite different, and the oldest brother Osbert has been left out completely – or rather replaced by Edmond, who becomes the oldest brother instead of Isaac’s twin.
The scene with the aftermath of the first bomb was AMAZINGLY done. Everything is wonderful, it is a beautiful sunny afternoon, Daisy and the cousins are enjoying a picnic after a day of swimming and lazing in the sunshine. A perfect day is suddenly interrupted – by silence. Then suddenly a gust of wind, the skies darken, there is an ominous rumbling, and the ash begins to fall like snow.
I’m glad that they made the decision to age Daisy and Edmond by a few years in the film, although it still makes me feel awkward that they’re cousins, and I’m surprised that wasn’t changed for the film. Like with the book, I don’t really understand their relationship. It felt more like a few impassioned glances and then suddenly that was it – they were together.
Overall, I actually enjoyed the film a lot more than I thought I would. In my opinion it was a really great adaptation of the source material, with some fantastic casting, gorgeous scenery and cinematography and a wonderful choice of music (John Martyn!). Highly emotional at times and surprisingly dark, anyone who thinks they have no need to watch this because it’s based on a Young Adult book should think again.