Thursday, April 23, 2015

Books on screen

How I Live Now

When I started watching movie adaptations with an eye for differences I began to notice certain key signs that an adaptation would be disappointing. Things like drastic changes in character dynamics, which was the first thing I noticed about this movie. The book How I Live Now introduces us to Daisy, a displaced fifteen year old with an eating disorder and her cousins: typical 17 year old Osbert, 15 year old twins Edmund and Isaac (who seldom speaks but has a way with animals), and the pixie-like 8 year old Piper. The farm is an idyllic place and Daisy quickly becomes part of their lives. The movie removes Osbert entirely, makes Isaac younger, and introduces a neighbor named Joe who spends time with the children. Edmund takes on most of Isaac's personality traits, leaving the two younger kids much more average. They are annoying and insensitive. In the long run these changes might not typically matter but in this case they change the entire tone of the movie. The book takes this almost magical place with these mystical children and tears it apart with war. In spit of the changes, they go on living and find a new normal, hence the title. The movie is far darker, focusing instead on dangers and how their lives fall apart. Even that idyllic beginning is harshened with the farm a dump, Daisy angry and combative, and the neighbor boy abused. 
Taken on it's own, this isn't a bad movie. But for the viewer who is at all familiar with the book this adaptation with be disappointing more than anything else.

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