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How I Live Now Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The production feels tentative and underpopulated: I thought not only of Katniss Everdeen but of the marvelous pandemonium in Danny Boyle's zombie epic "28 Days Later."

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    What starts as potentially interesting apocalyptic speculative fiction devolves into dreary sub-Hunger Games survivalism and banal teen romance.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Justin Chang

    Wisely sticks to its protagonist’s p.o.v. while avoiding a longer view of the calamitous events around her, making up in emotional immediacy what it lacks in broad dramatic sweep.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Bill Stamets

    Set in England, the dystopic “Brazil” and “28 Days Later” both ended with pastoral idylls for adult couples. How I Live Now offers adolescents a lovely vision of holistic healing in the same countryside.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Village Voice Alan Scherstuhl

    Tender, humane, and searing, How I Live Now stands as something all too rare: a movie about young people that young people may love — but not one that lies to them, and not one built for them alone.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Dark war drama depicts teen love, realistic violence.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that How I Live Now is a wartime relationship drama set in the near future based on an award-winning young adult novel. The film adaptation doesn't shy away from the mature elements in the story: (semi-related) teens have sex, war breaks out, teen and adult characters die or live in constant peril, and there's a lot of strong language. The main love scene between two teens is discrete, and mostly in shadow, but audiences can see their bare backs, legs, kissing, and hear moaning. There's also passionate kissing and frequent use of "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," and other expletives. The violence is realistic and disturbing and includes corpses and a potential rape. Parents and mature teens will have plenty to discuss about the nature of war, the importance of belonging, and the intensity of first love after the movie.

  • Families can talk about whether the movie is a war drama, a teen romance, a dystopian story, etc. Which genre does it fit in? The book it's based on is considered young adult, but what about the movie -- is it for a teen audience?
  • Discuss the romantic teen relationship in the movie. How is adolescent sex portrayed? Is it believable for teens to be drawn to each other under the circumstances?
  • Those who've read the book: How does the film compare? What do you think of the changes made to the characterizations and the story lines?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: The story emphasizes the importance of family and feeling at home somewhere, plus the intensity of finding a love to believe in and fighting to defend those you love.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Daisy, despite her tough exterior, is vulnerable, lonely, and emotionally fragile. She grows throughout the movie, opens herself up to love, and bravely defends and protects her young cousin Piper. Edmond has a soulful connection to nature, and is incredibly empathic. His siblings Isaac and Piper fiercely love their family and want to stay together.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The war leads to martial law, gun-toting soldiers who drag the girls away and punch one of the brothers. Characters are shot or found dead. In one sequence, men are shown beating and about to rape or kill a woman. Two men menacingly follow two girls and catch one before the other shoots at them. A character finds a mound of corpses in bags and opens them open one by one looking for someone she recognizes.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Teenage step-cousins (in the book they are first cousins) fall in love, kiss passionately, and have sex on more than one occasion. The love scenes don't show any nudity, but do linger on skin, particularly backs, faces, arms, and legs.

  • language false4

    Language: Frequent curse words such as "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "dick," and more.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Apple products are visible.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Daisy takes pills, but it's unclear exactly what they're for; and several adults smoke cigarettes.