A Long Way Down (2014) directed by Pascal Chaumeil and written by Jack Thorne. This is adapted from the Nick Hornby novel of the same name.
This movie stars: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul.
Synopsis: On New Year’s Eve, disgraced ex television presenter Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) is about to jump off the top of a building when he is interrupted by single mother Maureen Thompson (Toni Collette), the young politician’s daughter Jess (Imogen Poots) and cancer sufferer JJ (Aaron Paul) who have similar ideas.
Startled, Martin gets in his car and drives away. Having a crisis of conscience, he picks all of them up. As Jess has just been hurt by her boyfriend, Martin drops her off at a nightclub to confront him. The concerned others look for her minutes afterwards. Later, they find her in the hospital. Jess escapes unscathed, and the three others wait for her. They all discuss their respective problems and individual reasons for wanting to commit suicide. The group eventually make a pact to wait six weeks until Valentine’s Day to attempt suicide again. Afterwards, things spiral when the media become involved, and the characters find themselves in places they never thought they would be during the next six weeks.
Some of my favourite movies are adapted from Nick Horny novels such as About a Boy (2002) and High Fidelity (2000); therefore, I have always held him in high regard. After seeing this movie, my feelings have grown stronger. This story takes the subject of suicide and injects some nice comedy which results in a moving narrative.
This movie has been written in such a way that allows all of these characters to impact on the viewer in some way with their individual idiosyncrasies, but also allows the viewer to relate to the character’s feelings of despair at various points in the movie.
There is a nice cast in this movie, and the four leads interact effectively and have good onscreen chemistry. Pierce Brosnan plays the disgraced ex daytime television presenter Martin Sharp well, and serves as the main protagonist of the story. As the story begins, the character’s voiceover quickly establishes the turmoil he is in. After unknowingly sleeping with a fifteen year old girl, he is no longer employable anywhere. We see his desperate attempts at trying to get back on top. His character’s selfishness and superficiality is at times frustrating, and the viewer clearly sees that his image is one of the most important things to him.
This juxtaposed with Toni Collette’s character Maureen Thompson is somewhat different. Mauren is a middle aged single mother who cares for her disabled son. Her whole life revolves around him, and seems unhappy about the way her life has panned out – however, she has no resentment for her son. Toni Collette delivers another strong performance, and seems to be a natural at portraying English characters. This brought me back to her performance in About a Boy.
Imogen Poots is a young acting talent who has proved impressive in the performances I have seen her in to date. She is articulate and charming in her portrayal of Jess. Her character is very intelligent, articulate and provides a large part of comic relief to proceedings. She has a bright future ahead of her.
Aaron Paul portrays the enigmatic JJ who claims to be dying of brain cancer. Throughout the narrative, we know the least about him which makes the viewer want to find out more. Aaron Paul plays these mysterious damaged characters well, and I saw echoes of his Breaking Bad character Jesse Pinkman here. He is another actor with a bright future ahead of him, and this is his second collaboration with Imogen Poots. They are also seen together in Need for Speed (2014), and also display nice onscreen chemistry together.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this story. Dark comedies are not that common, and are highly effective when done well. As already stated, the characters are intriguing, which results in a moving story. I did my research into this movie beforehand, and commercially this did not do well at the box office and received a lot of negative reviews. Therefore, going into this movie my expectations were not to a high standard. However, I am glad I saw this and I recommend anyone else to do so.
By Robert Spence