It’s hard to categorize this movie, but if I had to, I would call it a post-apocalyptic war indie romance. The main character is Daisy (played by Saoirse Ronan), a teenager constantly caught up in her own rambling thoughts and seemingly unable to rise above her aggressive behavior, which stems from her fear of inadequacy, combined with abandonment issues. Daisy is obsessed with self-discipline and goal achievement, but her will power is used up in things like trying to reach 88 lbs. or not eating cheese.
Daisy is not a particularly appealing character. She’s actually sort of a bitch. I didn’t empathize with her at the beginning, but as the story unfolds Daisy shows she’s made of sterner stuff than what can be appreciated at first. She leaves New York to go the English Countryside to spend time with her British relatives, being rude to her cousins when she first meets them. But slowly they start to grow on her. She goes swimming and hiking and plays with them, and begins to feel like she belongs there, when she had never felt that she belonged anywhere before.
And then she and her eldest cousin fall in love. This is a touchy subject, to say the least, especially since it was never clear if Daisy was their first or second cousin. The romance is short-lived, however, because soon after there was a terrorist nuclear attack on England and Civil Law was suspended, rendering the whole country under Martial Law. The military finds Daisy and her cousins and separate the girls and the boys, sending them to different camps. Before they separate, they promise each other to get back home, however possible.
What I liked about the whole war setting was that we never knew who the enemy was. It was as if we were submerged into the politically undefined world of a teenager, where there were only bad guys and it was your job to fight to survive. And curiously enough, it is in this setting that Daisy flourishes. Perhaps it’s because now she knows what real problems are like, but she starts to pour all her will power and resourcefulness into escaping from the camp somehow and getting back home, never wavering in her faith that her male cousins are trying to do the same. And so her quest begins.
Ronan is an intriguing actress and she carries this strange and bittersweet movie to a less than happy but satisfying ending.