Wednesday 16 October 2013

I Need to Get Out More #4 - FILM REVIEW: How I Live Now

These days, about 90% of my movie-going habits consist of Saturday morning trips to the local old school cinema to watch the kids flick with the cheap tickets. So for me to go and see a new release, on the first day of its release, in the first screening, is a rare occasion indeed. Ok, so I didn't have much choice as to what time I could go to as I had to get back to pick the kids up from school, but whatever...

How I Live NowAnd by the way, yay from my first film review! To say I've been looking forward to this is a bit of an understatement. I first read How I Live Now a couple of years ago. I'd finished What I Was after picking it up by chance from my local library and then immediately deciding to consume the whole Meg Rosoff back catalogue. Actually, these books were some of the first YA novels I read (in my current period of YA love, not when I was a teenager) and consequently, they've have been burnt on my memory, not only for their brilliance, but also because they are partly responsible for my YA re-discovery.

However, it has also dawned on me that I haven't read How I Live Now since that first encounter a few years back (not sure why) and I have also lent my only copy to my best friend who has yet to return it, so I'm going to have to rely on my not very reliable memory when it comes to comparing the two. But, as you'll soon find out, the whole point of this review is that we shouldn't really be comparing the two at all...

How I Live Now (2013) Poster
As with any book-to-film adaption, my anticipation is always a mixture of extreme and on occasions, uncontrollable, excitement and a touch of terror, because I reckon it's completely natural to think that any adaptation might not live up to the original prose. But after we came out of the cinema, I realised that when it comes to How I Live Now, this sort of worrying was a bit of a waste of time. Yes, they made some changes to the characters and the story, but that wasn't unexpected. What was more important to me was that the overall power of the story remained intact and it worked as a film, rather than a version of a book. There was one particular addition that I don't remember in the book (but like I said, it's been a while) that was especially moving. And heartbreaking. And let's face it, just horrific. But it also summed up the whole feel of the film for me. I don't know why I wasn't expecting it to be quite as dark as it was (the book is about a war after all), but this was powerful stuff indeed. Made all the more intense by the contrasting images of beauty and despair.

My one quibble is that the central romance didn't quite have the effect I had hoped. I can see why they made certain changes to Edmund's character, but the way their unique bond was shown here didn't really work as well as it could have done. I could forgive the whole insta-love thing in the book because of the amazing prose, but on film, not so much. Saying that, I would have been quite happy staring at Edmond for two hours straight. Top marks for casting on that front...

This is an intriguing and beautiful film in it's own right, as well as a companion to the book, and I'm very glad that my uncontrollable excitement prior to viewing was justified.

Also, I recently found out that the girl who plays Piper also does the voice of Peppa Pig.



  1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. I was supposed to go and see this together with my book club as a big group outing but because of illness, we had to postpone. and postpone until ... our local cinema stopped showing it :( Damn. I'll have to wait for it on DVD now!

  2. Fantastic! I am so, so excited to see this when it reaches Australia :) I'm on board with changes, because hey, from book to film they're necessary - but I'm apprehensive about the romance stuff you mentioned.

    But, Edmund casting... A+