HOW I LIVE NOW (15)
SET IN the near future and based on the prize-winning novel by Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now is a young adult movie which tells the story of Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), a moody teenager, sent to live with her cousins in the English countryside.
Romance blossoms when she falls for Edmond (George Mackay) and Daisy starts to feel a little less alienated and warms to her surroundings in what promises to be an idyllic summer.
But Europe is on the brink of World War Three and as the violence escalates, a nuclear device is exploded in London and a military state is declared.
Daisy has to decide whether to stay and fight for her life, or return to the States and go back to the life she knew. And she decides to stay.
Rosoff's novel was a huge hit with young readers but director Kevin MacDonald (The Eagle), doesn't translate the power of the novel on to the big screen, thanks largely to a weak script and a dull lethargy which hangs over the film.
A lack of budget is not always a hindrance to a good film maker, but a lack of imagination is, and this film uses so many clichés from previous apocalyptic efforts (it's very reminiscent of the TV series The Survivors and has elements of 28 Days and The Road) that it's easy to get the feeling you've seen it all before.
And Daisy's character is made so unlikeable it's hard to care what happens to her.
Her lack of interest in what is happening around her has a contagious effect on the viewer making this hard work to watch.
What is attractive about the film is the cinematography.
Franz Lustig perfectly captures the beauty of the English countryside alongside the brutality of a war-torn state, and the use of natural light to highlight certain scenes is very powerful.
But somehow this doesn't blend with the action and is at odds with the lack of any vitality in the dialogue.
The film has some shocking violence — shocking through its effect on the characters rather than blood and gore, and as a psychological study on the war-torn victims, it is an interesting piece of work, but when it tries to get dark and deep, it loses its way.
There are a lot of psychological blanks left for the audience to fill in and unless you care about the characters, it's a lot to ask for us to make that effort.
Saoirse works hard to create a leading character who can carry the emotional investment of the viewer but it's too big a job when she doesn't have the tools to work with.
A sharper script would have done a lot of the work for her, but the words don't feel like they come easily.
The book carried an internal monologue by Daisy which helped define her and her thoughts, but here it is watered down into short snippets and doesn't work so well.
The film makers have aimed this at a teenage market and essentially it is a teenage love story.
But it's audience will be limited within that audience base — the subject matter.
A sexual relationship between cousins, bloody violence, shots of rotting corpses, the threat of rape and the fear of murder will not appeal to your typical teen movie goer.
This film will struggle to find its niche, and the audience who will appreciate its finer points.