Sunday, 6 October 2013

Poster Analysis: How I Live Now

How I Live Now was released in the UK on October 4th and this poster (see right) has been doing the rounds for several weeks (at least) prior to that. The film is adapted from the best-selling novel by Meg Rosoff and stars the extremely talented Saoirse Ronan who plays Daisy.

I've mostly seen this image plastered on buses in the Wandsworth area, which I'm sure is purely coincidental and not a slant against us South London folk. More importantly, after the nth time of seeing this poster, I still have virtually no idea what the film is about!

The poster's layout is fairly simplistic and focuses equally on the film's title and the (relatively limited) star-power of leading lady, Saoirse Ronan.

With  her bright headphones, rock-star clothes, yellow sunglasses and moody demeanor, Ronan seems more like a Bling Ring reject as opposed to Daisy, a withdrawn and alienated teen who is struggling to adapt to her new countryside surroundings (yes I have read the synopsis).

The poster is by no means terrible, I actually quite like it. The stylish colour scheme and the excellent use of a sunset compliment each other perfectly and symbolise the end of society as we know it. The use of reds, yellows, blacks and oranges creates a sense of unease which implies an unknown threat that may consume everything. This is somewhat contradicted by the tagline - Love Will Lead You Home - which will cause cinemagoers who are unfamiliar with the source material to develop conflicting notions of the film's over-arching narrative.

Let's face it, Daisy (Ronan) looks so miserable that any suggestion of ''love'' may very well be met with a one-finger response. She looks bored and this is not a great selling point for the movie!  Her slouching, angst-fuelled stature resembles that of a teen whose father has just asked her to help him unpack the shopping. Why should we care about how she lives now if she looks completely disinterested and moody?

It is feasible to assume that she's simply blocking everything out with her music, which meets the angsty ignorance of teenagers. This then becomes a satirical point when attention is focused on the smoke cloud, which symbolises a chaotic scenario, but something that she is clearly unconcerned with.

Keeping all of this in mind, there is no way you'll register any of this after a passing glance, which negates the purpose of the poster.

My main issue with this image is that it implies everything but tells us virtually nothing. Very few of us have the time (or patience) to study it in more detail, especially if it passes you on the side of a bus! The trailer is by far the film's strongest marketing asset, it goes into much greater detail and creates a much more rounded understanding of the near-future dystopian Britain. However, the film's trailer isn't nearly dramatic or striking enough to gain any real traction and doesn't seem to have achieved any worthwhile exposure, so any lasting success will depend entirely on the film's ability to resonate with mainstream audiences.

The marketing campaign for How I Live Now has seemed muddled at best, there has been no consistency amongst the trailer and posters and this indicates an uncertainty as to whether this film is commercially viable. The marketing material is simply underwhelming in its current state, which is a shame because I'm sure this film would resonate well with audiences if it was really championed.

It is unlikely that general cinemagoers will take a risk on a movie when it seems as though even the distributors don't know exactly why we should see it.

The film's dystopian setting coupled with the romance-driven narrative means there was serious scope for the creation of some bold and gutsy marketing materials that could potentially entice general cinemagoers into seeing this movie. However, by avoiding this strategy and focusing on a more neutral campaign, they are relying on a very loyal fan-base and positive word-of-mouth to carry this movie for several weeks.

We'll see...

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