A Long Way Down (2014)
Directed by Pascal Chaumeil.
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Sam Neill, Rosamund Pike, Tuppence Middleton, Josef Altin.
2014 96 minutes
Rated: (for language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, September 10, 2014.
Based on Nick Hornby's same-titled 2005 novel, "A Long Way Down" is unctuous and cloying, an irresponsible look at four suicidal people whose problems appear to be nothing a good laugh can't solve. Shamed former daytime talk show host Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan), harried mother of a special needs son Maureen (Toni Collette), politician's daughter Jess (Imogen Poots), and terminal brain cancer patient JJ (Aaron Paul) meet on the rooftop of London's Toppers House on New Year's Eve. Strangers who were all planning to jump, they instead make a pact to be each other's support system and stick it out through Valentine's Day. Wacky misadventures (and at least one unanticipated heartbreak) ensue.
In adapting Hornby's book, director Pascal Chaumeil and screenwriter Jack Thorne are mostly accurate, separating the narrative into four parts with each one told from the point of view of a different protagonist. The particulars of the script ring so false, though, that not even the dignified performances of its castmost notably Toni Collette (2014's "Tammy
") and Imogen Poots (2014's "Need for Speed
")can save it. There is nothing wrong with a bittersweet comedy that finds humor in sadness and misery, but "A Long Way Down" doesn't bother to explore its characters on any substantial level and comes close to offending in how flippant the whole thing is to the subject of suicide. Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ are deeply troubled and possibly clinically depressed, but try telling that to filmmakers more concerned with witty retorts than exploring who this quartet are as people.