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Film Review: A Long Way Down

10th March 2014

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Pierce Brosnan, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul and Toni Collette star in this adaptation of Nick Hornby’s 2005 novel, which sees four depressed people meeting by chance at the top of a tower block during a New Year’s Eve suicide mission.

With the space at the top of the tower getting a bit busy for them all to go through with their plans to jump, disgraced TV presenter Martin, unstoppably irritating MP’s daughter Jess, pizza delivery boy JJ and bedraggled single mum Maureen make a pact – to not kill themselves until Valentine’s Day. And so our film begins.

A Long Way Down is supposed to be a bittersweet comedy – but it isn’t funny, and its frequent uncomfortable moments (Pierce Brosnan’s Martin losing it with Aaron Paul’s JJ in a restaurant, for example) don’t lead to anything deeper.

There’s no doubt that its characters, for the most part, are going through serious issues – but there is no attempt made to give any depth to these individual narratives. Possibly this is because each character spends part of the film telling their own story, a device which doesn’t allow a lot of time for development before we move onto the next one.

Because of this all the characters, aside from Toni Collette’s Maureen, who is the highlight, are deeply difficult to like – they come across as shallow, self-absorbed and without any emotional depth whatsoever, which makes it impossible to care about what happens to them.  

For a film whose main themes include suicide, sick children and cancer to be successfully as a black comedy, the script has to be exceptional – and unfortunately this one has no standout moments whatsoever.  

It is a film thatalways gives way to the unbelievable – for example, why do they go on holiday? That wouldn’t happen! Although the trip to Tenerife was only a small part of the novel, it is given a prominence here that doesn’t seem necessary.

A Long Way Down is overall a weak and predictable effort, and this is especially true at the end, which is unsatisfactory and feels, unfortunately, like it has taken the easiest possible way out.

A Long Way Down is released in UK cinemas on 21st March.

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