Like, it’s Armageddon in ‘How I Live Now’

Saoirse Ronan in the World War III story “How I Live Now.”
Saoirse Ronan in the World War III story “How I Live Now.”Nicola Dove/magnolia pictures

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How I Live Now

How I Live Now” is a meticulously observed, rapturously directed account of World War III and its aftermath as seen from the point of view of a spoiled teenage girl, and it’s pretty fascinating before it goes bonkers. Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement”) plays an American visiting her British country cousins when a nuclear bomb goes off in London and anarchy descends.

As directed by Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”), the movie doesn’t sugarcoat what societal breakdown looks like: A few characters don’t make it to the end credits, and a scene in which the heroine stumbles into a nightmare of rape and murder is terrifying. But the film’s ultimate message — nothing improves a girl’s low self-esteem like Armageddon — plays like Bizarro World Nicholas Sparks.

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