I had low expectations and lower interest. Has there been a good Saoirse Ronan-led flick?
While the photography isn’t up to much – it’s the rapid cut sort – the children-hit-by-World-War-Three drama hits its beats with consistency and wisdom. The youths’ naivety at their incoming plight is less grudging suspense than pleasing for its innocence, that ever-attractive construction. We take in the countryside, while it’s still there. The children – with moments borrowed, I imagine, from the mass of home video footage Kevin Macdonald would’ve trawled through for Life in a Day – are children. It’s easy to see where it’s molded for the Twilight generation (topless dude = lust = sex = love), but it’s not the only bond our grumpy protagonist comes to know, and that’s important.
There’s also a strange, unclear instance of telepathy, and I haven’t a clue what that was about. This I am grateful for. It’s not the sharply defined, high concept superpower bullshit that’s invading every genre. Likewise, when the bombs hit, we don’t get some God’s view glamour shot, and nor are the children conveniently located in the foreground of a mushroom cloud. There are sounds, wind, and a change of atmosphere. It is ambiguous. The children don’t know what’s going on. The eldest merely suggests that they go home, and the end of splendid isolation unhurriedly overlaps with the process of survival. Not only is it well-observed dramatically, it is a realistic portrayal of what the adolescent experience would be, and is.
During the Threads-like fallout, the “terrorists”, their motivation and actions, remain unknown. Our little community is torn apart by the authority figures, and there is the inescapable sense that they are being led to their deaths. All in all it is pretty harrowing stuff for youngsters, but valuable. Though the story ends reinforcing gender roles, as seems the norm for Young Adult novels and their adaptations, the latter half makes the case that our social responsibility to each other is much more important than survival.
This is my experience. This is how I live. And at a time when, in the US, the notion of healthcare equality is made to terrify so many, and in the UK the long-celebrated rights to the same are severely cut by a government that promotes self-interest and attacks the poor, this discourse is clearly timely. Is it one you will engage in?