After putting out films like 2011’s historical drama The Eagle and 2006’s The Last King of Scotland, as well as a documentary about reggae demigod Bob Marley, director Kevin MacDonald continues his atypical film career with the near-future war drama How I Live Now, which Magnolia Pictures has at last unleashed the above trailer for (via ComingSoon, a year after the film’s first image was released. And go figure, it’s nothing like I expected it to be.

Saoirse Ronan continues her strong 2013 by playing her second character named Daisy – the first was in Geoffrey Fletcher’s Violet and Daisy – an American teenager who is sent to the British countryside to stay with relatives. Though it takes her a while to get comfortable with the setting change, she soon begins a romantic relationship with Edmund (George MacKay), who may or may not be her cousin. But before everyone can live weirdly and happily ever after, a third world war has to happen. The country gets attacked and soon turns into a frightening police state, leaving Daisy, her family and Edmund to try and survive in the war-torn landscape.

The film is adapted from Meg Rosoff’s 2004 novel, which won several children’s literature awards, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if How I Live Now ended up looking like a Hunger Games clone, both in its aesthetic and in its tone. But while it doesn't resemble that film at all, I can’t even really peg the movie’s genre form the trailer, which flips from a light romantic drama to a post-nuclear survival thriller without so much as a blink. The music also flips from indie alternative to a melancholic score back to a brighter song at the end, which makes me hopeful that it won’t be as dark and depressing as it has the potential to be.

I’m rather tired of post-apocalyptic teen-driven dramas, and I enjoy Ronan when she’s in a role where she gets to have a little fun, which wasn’t the case with the sci-fi thriller The Host or the vampire thriller Byzantium. So if How I Live Now whittles its focus down and makes this a strong character film, I’ll be very interested in the final result. As it stands now, one trailer in, my interest is piqued but mostly because of the strong source material and the fact that its incestuous angle isn’t a focal point for MacDonald to cling to.

Oddly enough, How I Live Now is bypassing the festival route and is set for a U.K. release on October 4. Unfortunately, no U.S. date has been set yet, but we expect Magnolia will be addressing this soon. Or at least before the next nuclear war.

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