Survival becomes a way of life in a nuclear future.
Daisy, played by Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Little Women) is a typical teen, angsty, sarcastic, emotionally distant and so on. Her mood isn’t improved when her family sends her from home in the USA to family, living in the British countryside for the summer. She isn’t interested in her surroundings, discovering the reality of a British farmhouse being dirty and run down. The fact that her mother used to frequent the farm only slightly improves her mood. It isn’t until she begins to have incestuous feelings toward her cousin, Eddie, played by George MacKay (Private Peaceful, 1917) that Daisy warms up to her new situation.
In the background of this teenage drama, the news reports political tensions, bomb threats and explosions in Europe, causing Daisy’s aunt to have to leave to Geneva, revealing that she is an expert in extremist terrorist groups. Whilst her aunt and Eddie’s mother are away, Daisy and Eddie take time to explore the local countryside; however, this idyllic time whiling away the summer days is soon interrupted as a nuclear bomb devastates London.
The size of the blast kills millions and soon the effects of the explosion reach their country farmhouse. The radio which was previously bringing news of unrest is now advising that martial law is in effect. As an official from the US Consulate arrives to give Daisy safe passage home, she refuses to stay with her cousins Eddie and Isaac, played by Tom Holland (The Impossible, Spiderman: Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Piper, played by Harley Bird (the voice of Peppa Pig).
In the aftermath of the nuclear explosion, the ever-present threat of the British Army is close by and unseen enemies pose an ever more immediate danger. As Daisy and Eddie are separated they vow to try to reunite. Both Daisy and Piper are sent to the home of an Army Major whilst Eddie and Isaac are taken to a military camp. When the unseen enemy attacks the camps, Daisy must find Eddie while protecting her cousin and escape to return home.
Further horrors await Daisy and Piper as they approach home and frantically search for Eddie after a devastating attack.
How I Live Now is a teen love story mixed in with the horrors of a postnuclear world, devastated by explosions. While the story doesn’t specifically focus on the actual war, it is always lurking behind the story of the young lovers. The story of lust and longing plays out in an idyllic British summer of long sunny days, surrounded in natural beauty and no doubt takes viewers back to similar summers in their own lives; although potentially without the incest part. This picture-perfect world is soon torn apart as the background of unease is thrust dramatically out of the periphery and changes the immediate and future lives of the characters involved in what was once a routine love story.