How I Live Now (Blu-ray) (2013)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 2-Apr-2014

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 101:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kevin Macdonald
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Saoirse Ronan
George MacKay
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $34.95 Music John Hopkins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     How I Live Now by British director Kevin MacDonald is an adaptation of an award-winning young adult novel by English writer Meg Rosoff. The emphasis here is on the adult part of young adult and parents wanting a sleepover film for their young teenagers should perhaps choose again, as it features a bleakness and level of brutality which is at once refreshing for this type of film and yet is not without its concerns.

     Daisy (a.k.a. Elisabeth) is an American teenager who has been, to her mind, exiled to Britain by her uncaring father. Daisy (played by Saoirse Ronan) lost her mother at birth and when she arrives at the house of her aunt in the countryside she brings a lot of anger and resentment. It takes a while before she softens to her English cousins including the hunky Eddie (George Mackay).

     The kids are left alone when their mother leaves to attend urgent talks in Switzerland to try to avoid a war. What begins as a film about the gradual softening of a difficult teen takes an abrupt turn when Daisy and her cousins hear the dull roar and feel the falling ash of a nuclear bomb dropped on London.

     The crew are forcibly separated with Eddie and his brother, together with a family friend, being taken to one camp and Daisy and her young female cousin Piper being billeted in another town. Nowhere is truly safe however and the invading army eventually finds their community, causing Daisy and Piper to have to take to the road to avoid capture and likely death.

     As said, the issues covered in this film are delivered in a more direct fashion than most teen adaptations. The most obvious comparison is with Tomorrow, When the War Began however that film feels closer to a Boy's Own tale then this film which has hunger, rape and murder just around the corner. Parents may also have a little trouble explaining the sexual relationship between Daisy and her cousin! The novel and the film both shy away from identifying the invading army.

     Saoirse Ronan has been doing tough young female roles for ages and puts in another great performance as the initially unlikable Daisy, who is forced to grow up in order to protect Piper and find Eddie. The young girl is also good as Piper.

     This is never an easy film and does not pander to its audience. Probably because of that what is otherwise a pretty decent film has had a difficult time at the box office. It had only a limited release in the UK and in Australia and has not yet been released in the US. That's a great pity because it is well made and its serious content deserves viewing by discerning teens and their parents.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     How I Live Now comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 transfer consistent with the original cinema aspect ratio.

     The film was shot on high-definition digital video. McDonald had apparently not shot with digital before and wanted to separate the film into a "film section", prior to the war, followed by a "digital section" for the war scenes. Apparently he was convinced that cinematographer Franz Lustig could carry it off and very right he was!

     This is a great looking transfer.

     The countryside is full of cool, crisp greens as beautiful to look at before the war as during, except that we know that behind the beauty can lurk terrible dangers. The flesh tones are accurate and well handled.

     There is a good level of detail to the image quality.

     There are no technical problems with the transfer.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     How I Live Now That comes with a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

     Although it is mainly set during a war, which would usually mean gunshots, bombs and bombast, for the most part this film is quiet as Daisy and Piper sneak through the countryside trying to avoid detection.

     The surround sound is used well for some of the country sounds including the wind. The sub-woofer is used on occasion to great effect particularly in the explosion sequence but also whenever gunfire is heard.

     Music is by John Hopkins who provides a subtle but effective score to the film.

    There are no technical problems with the sound transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Deleted Scenes (16.15)

    

    A lengthy series of deleted scenes though, to be honest, none of them struck me as an unfortunate omission. The early scenes are more of Daisy being difficult and the later scenes are of Daisy and Piper walking through the woods.

Making of How I Live Now

    This is a very brief series of interviews with cast and crew about the film. Too short to be of real use.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A version of this film has similar specs but heaps more extras. They are:

Deleted Scenes (4:58)

Making of How I Live Now (5:52)

Interviews

Behind the Scenes Comparisons (6:17)

AXS TV: A Look at How I Live Now (2.50)

Trailer

Summary

     How I Live Now will probably disappear quietly from sight which is a pity as it has a fair bit to add to the young adult cinema. More The Road than Twilight this is an often bracing affair.

    The Blu-ray is of excellent quality though our extras in Region B Australia got nuked.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, April 25, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE