Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Sam Neill
Directed By: Pascal Chaumeil
Written By: Jack Thorne
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 36 min
On a chilly New Years Eve, four people accidentally meet atop London’s most frequented high-rise building (nicknamed Toppers’ House*), ready to commit suicide. A chance encounter, that puts their respective plans to visit the afterlife on hold, and subsequently results in a pact to not end their lives until the next popular holiday for hara-kiri; Valentines Day!
A Long Way Down is a dark comedy based on a Nick Hornby novel. A story told from the individual points of view of its leading characters at steadily timed intervals during the film. Focusing on each of their reasons for suicide, and the blossoming relationships with their fellow pact members. Which as I understand it (I haven’t read the novel), is how the book is organized.
This however, may explain why this film is so flawed. It supposedly attempts to follow the source material’s structure, but also tries to reconcile that with the typically three act narrative of a film. So at the point in the movie when each character’s story arc should be heading to a conclusion, the audience is still getting big important details about two of its major players. Jack Thorne’s script tries to balance this out, and juggle some of the details, but the end result feels disjointed and messy. Frequently contriving actions and situations in order to get the main characters together. While also relying on way too much voice-over narration to introduce each character.
Despite this however, A Long Way Down is still incredibly charming. As an odd ball mix of actors and characters, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul, have great chemistry. And despite the patchwork development of their respective character’s, it certainly looks like they enjoyed and respected each others contribution to this film. Toni Collette and Imogen Poots in this regard, certainly bring a lot of energy and emotional heft to the proceedings. But that’s partially due to their character’s more interesting and better developed back stories. The premise is a good one, and there are some great emotional highs and lows to enjoy. Which the film manages to deliver without trivializing the weighty and complex issue of suicide.
* English colloquialism ‘top yourself‘, to commit suicide.
This is an odd mix of humor and drama, with characters that can be fun one moment, and deadly (sorry) serious the next. I say give this film a chance. If you’re not charmed by its awkwardness during the first thirty minutes, then let it go. The movie is rated R due to its adult themes and language.
A Long Way Down is a decently shot film, but a streaming show on your TV will service this movie sufficiently enough.
I really liked Imogen Poots’ charming performance in this film. The moment she appears outside the hospital in her backless gown, striking a cute dance pose – kept me in the film.