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Oh what a lovely nuclear war !
on 29 June 2014
This film starts promisingly enough (if you can bear the frantic editing) - bitching American mall-rat Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is sent against her will to live with her whacky bucolic cousins in the depths of a golden English countryside. She at first is distant and disdainful of their friendly entreaties to join in the fun, but falling for brooding, enigmatic Eddie, she begins to show signs of going native. But clearly, bad things are happening out there in the wider world, with the threat of war implied by the heavy military presence everywhere, and ominous hints on the TV news.
Just when things are beginning to look up for Daisy and Co, along comes a nuclear conflict to put the damper on their Famous Five romps. This is actually done quite well - the animals scamper off in panic, the trees blow in the wind, and there is a distant crack-thump of detonation (and, implausibly, the ash of the fallout begins immediately, which is a bit daft but never mind).
Here things start to go downhill in my opinion. So London has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb (and possibly Bristol, too), with hundreds of thousands dead, and the likelihood of a nuclear winter, radiation sickness, famine and death. But the gang carry on as if nothing much has happened ! They're still skipping round camp fires, playing with the dogs, Daisy and Eddie are bonking in the barn (Hang on - aren't they cousins ?), all to the backdrop of blue skies and contended, browsing livestock. Well, this did it for me. Where were the traumatized, irradiated survivors, stumbling around in the gloom, stockpiling roots and berries, or trying to eat each other, as we've been lead to believe by films such as Threads and The Road ? Quite frankly, if this is a post-nuclear conflict scenario, then we spent all the Cold War worrying ourselves sick over nothing.
So, unfortunately, this had me set against entire rest of the film, ready to pick holes in everything, which was a shame, because most of it was quite good. The boys and girls are forcibly removed from the house, and separated, by the military who are now in charge of things (and I am positive that British soldiers would not treat civilians in such a coarse and brutal manner as depicted, which was another moan), and put to work in camps to help with rebuilding an economy. Thereafter, the film follows Daisy and one of the younger children as she escapes and makes her long and painful way back to the house - via a still very green and pleasant landscape - in order to be re-united with her beloved Eddie.
It had its moments; for a low-ish budget film it was visually impressive, but the various implausibilities let it down for me.