Metascore
57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Nov 5, 2013
    90
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 8, 2013
    88
    How I Live Now takes some frightening, gruesome turns. In tone and terror, it comes close to matching the jumpy dread of Danny Boyle's British Isles virus thriller "28 Days Later."
  3. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 6, 2013
    83
    Macdonald's movie is a kind of fairy tale. While in the Marvel franchises, the good guys always win, The House I Live In explores the far more tangible process of simply remaining alive at all costs -- and finding, against impossible odds, justification for living through another day.
  4. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Nov 8, 2013
    75
    It's strong stuff, and the actors are fully up to it.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Nov 8, 2013
    75
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    The result calls to mind “Lord of the Flies” and “Children of Men,” even if the film’s second half is much less compelling than its first.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 5, 2013
    75
    In a movie without adults, the children are spontaneous and natural. And Ms. Ronan is captivating throughout.
  8. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Sep 17, 2013
    75
    Macdonald’s unique direction and Ronan’s jittery performance makes the film a worthy watch
  9. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 17, 2013
    70
    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.
  10. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Nov 6, 2013
    67
    Ronan acquits herself nicely. Believable as both a smitten leading lady and a resourceful action heroine, she’s the ideal young-adult starlet — though after this and "The Host," maybe it’s time the actress lent her piercing baby blues to a plain old adult project again.
  11. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Nov 8, 2013
    65
    Because it serves up Armageddon with a side order of teen romance, How I Live Now is not always credible. But as a portrait of a surly 16-year-old whose internal crisis is overtaken by an external one, the movie is persuasive.
  12. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    Nov 14, 2013
    63
    As a dystopian teen movie, Macdonald’s adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s young adult novel is refreshingly free of digital apocalyptics and unnervingly prone to random violence.
  13. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Nov 5, 2013
    63
    The film stumbles into a cross-country odyssey that dominates its last third. That is fascinating, but not properly set up, much like the film itself. How I Live Now skips over the “How,” loses itself in the “I” and never lets the pathos of “Live Now” pay off.
  14. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Nov 7, 2013
    60
    As sun-dappled infatuation abruptly crashes into post-apocalyptic survival, Mr. Macdonald struggles to balance a nebulous narrative on tentpole moments of rich emotional resonance.
  15. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Nov 6, 2013
    60
    Part of the point may be how trauma simplifies life by stripping away everything inessential, but just as there’s little satisfaction in watching Daisy pursue an unworthy goal, there’s little satisfaction in watching a specific, colorful, keenly felt portrait become such a familiar story.
  16. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 6, 2013
    60
    How I Live Now goes to that nuclear nightmare, and Ronan, who can’t hide her smarts even when the role isn’t as good as the one she had in "Atonement," makes a feast of the journey.
  17. Reviewed by: Emma Morgan
    Oct 5, 2013
    60
    An Arab Spring-y allegory with kissing cousins and a divine countryside setting, Kevin Macdonald’s fourth narrative film is an awkward oddity, as uncomfortable in its own skin as its protagonist.
  18. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Oct 1, 2013
    60
    Kevin Macdonald’s slightly drab adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s popular teen novel would be nothing without Saoirse Ronan.
  19. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Sep 30, 2013
    60
    Macdonald's film is a noble stab at bringing Meg Rosoff's YA novel to the screen, which sees Ronan in typically watchable form.
  20. Reviewed by: Henry Barnes
    Sep 17, 2013
    60
    A gooey love story is pitted against the end of the world. No wonder the romance comes up wanting.
  21. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland,” “State of Play”) does a passable job of evoking post-apocalyptic atmosphere in How I Live Now, although the film suffers from uneven tone — is it a teen romance or wartime adventure? — and, ultimately, a regrettable lack of focus.
  22. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    A meticulously observed, rapturously directed account of World War III and its aftermath as seen from the point of view of a spoiled young woman. The movie’s pretty fascinating before it goes bonkers.
  23. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    Imagine a Judy Blume rewrite of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," and you'll end up somewhere in the ashen yet uplifting vicinity of How I Live Now.
  24. Reviewed by: Chuck Bowen
    Nov 5, 2013
    50
    There are a few effectively disquieting sequences early on, but the film never recovers from director Kevin Macdonald's indifferent staging of a pivotal moment.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 17, 2013
    50
    What starts as potentially interesting apocalyptic speculative fiction devolves into dreary sub-Hunger Games survivalism and banal teen romance.
  26. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Sep 17, 2013
    50
    For every poignant moment there’s a gaudy dream sequence, wretched internal monologue, ham-fisted zoom or an exchange of dialogue sorely lacking nuance.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 8, 2013
    40
    A frosty-eyed, imperturbable actress in “Atonement,” “Hanna” and “The Host,” Ronan is at least able to sell Daisy’s new focus while the movie loses its own.
  28. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 7, 2013
    40
    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."
  29. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 14, 2013
    25
    Drama is as much about perspective as it is about events, and the angle provided by How I Live Now turns out to be self-defeating.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Jan 4, 2014
    10
    This is a rare film. A gemstone. an oil painting of a young woman neurotic.
    This film is a simple but not simplistic. the characters are
    sketched as if they were living in a real fairytale. Real like the tension that is always present and alive. a magical movie. I have no other words. happy to have seen it. Full Review »
  2. Nov 11, 2013
    8
    An American teenager (Saoirse Ronan) is sent to rural England to spend the summer with step-cousins. Just as her aloof attitude changes and she begins to love the experience (and the oldest boy), a terrorist takeover rocks the couintry. What starts as a transplanted teen drama takes a forceful shift into a tense fight for survival. The young cast creates characters that are appealing and director Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland) has crafted a surprisingly affecting and sometimes frightening film. Full Review »
  3. Apr 2, 2014
    8
    Don't pay attention to the professionals on this one. They're far too hung up on categories. Is this a YA? Is it a war drama? Is it art? Who cares? This film is like your first time with your first love. It's awkward and fumbly at times, but it's also honest and heartfelt. Not once did I ever feel manipulated and not once did I stop caring about what would happen to these innocents caught in a conflict they could barely see, much less comprehend. Saoirse Ronan is wonderful. She owns every moment she's on the screen. Despite the smug judgment of some critics, How I Live Now is two hours very well spent. Full Review »