read the news // live the culture
CultureCinemaMovie reviews

How We Used to Live | Movie Review

  Monday 9th June 2014

Paul Kelly returns with this poetically filmed collaboration with indie-pop band Saint Etienne and delivers what is essentially a prequel to Finisterre (the first in a loose trilogy of London films). How We Used to Live is composed of footage taken entirely from the film archives at the British Film Institute, and delivers a lyrically retrospective look at London and what it means to those who inhabit the ever-changing, diverse city.

HWUTL-400x297

Anyone who has ever tried to understand his or her city will be struck by the intoxicatingly abstract, almost instinctively hewn nature of this film. The velvety tones of the voiceover weave together a hypnotic air of nostalgia and the documentary itself is littered with tongue-in-cheek jokes and whimsical portrayals of past culture.

London is highly romanticised and the “forest of concrete and glass” seems almost monochromic at times, highlighted by swelling music with themes of lost love and everlasting hope; children frequently laugh onscreen and there is a constant thread of eternally overlapping generations. The familiar landmarks scattered throughout the film and the involvement of a sign for Jesus Christ Superstar strike a modern tinge of identification through faded moments that flicker like wistful memories.

A wonderful scene towards the close of the film portrays a young man skateboarding with abandon through throngs of smartly dressed commuters, punks smoking cigarettes and the carefree ring of liberation. This vibrant highlighting of the value of life gives a timeless quality to the simple pleasures shown: these are all things that we can take satisfaction from now, and a valuable message is communicated. The message of humanity – the message of the joy in valuing the present moment no matter where it may fall – is echoed in the dulcet tones as the film fades to a close: “nothing has changed”.

Verdict:

Francesca Laidlaw

How We Used to Live is released nationwide on 10th June 2014.

Watch the trailer for How We Used to Live here:

More about the author

Francesca Laidlaw

Share this story


  • Pin It
  • Share on Google+
  • Reddit
  • Stumble
  • LinkedIn

Latest related

The Hundred-Foot Journey | Movie review
The Hundred-Foot Journey

Helen Mirren stars with Om Puri as two restaurateurs who rival for the attention of a sleepy French village in this [read more]

Sex Tape | Movie review
Sex Tape

Long before Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton were caught out, even before Pamela Anderson cavorted with Tommy Lee, Rob [read more]

Million Dollar Arm| Movie review
Million Dollar Arm

Walt Disney takes this remarkable true story and turns it into an uplifting baseball tale slapped with a sickly sweet [read more]

Night Will Fall | Movie review
Night Will Fall

It is the April of 1945 and British troops in Europe are advancing towards one of an estimated 20,000 SS-run [read more]

United We Fall | Movie review
United We Fall

Not to be confused with the 2010 documentary of the same name about the North American Union, which is reportedly very [read more]

Archives