‘A Long Way Down’ Movie Review – A Long Way To Go
Sometimes the only reaction is to laugh. We’ve all had those times where something isn’t funny but our reaction is to laugh because we’re uncomfortable. When you really think about it, it has to be one of the weirdest behaviors. In the film industry, dark comedies thrive on making things funny that really shouldn’t be. The results have obviously varied, but the good examples, like Pulp Fiction, Fargo, and even 2012’s Seven Psychopaths, show it can be done. Pascal Chaumeil’s A Long Way Down unfortunately doesn’t join this list and elicits pity laughs…if any laughs at all.
Based on Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, A Long Way Down starts off with a promising premise. When four separate suicidees (a word a made up for this review) all try to take their life from the top of the Toppers Building in London, they instead make a pact to stay alive from that night, New Years Eve, to Valentine’s Day.
Then the movie shifts focus to our four characters and why they want to commit suicide. There are an array of different characters, including a celebrity than has fallen from grace (played by Pierce Brosnan), a struggling mom with a sick child (played by Toni Collette), a down-on-his luck pizza guy with a secret (played by Aaron Paul), and a free-spirited twentysomething struggling with her sister’s disappearance (played by Imogen Poots).
With the characters is where the real potential lies because, although bleak, diving into someone’s suicidal psyche could result in some interesting takeaways. Even with those not-too-spoilery descriptions, there is plenty of room to learn more.
We just never do.
This is where the dark comedy part ruins things. With a serious subject like this, it is hard to get onboard with diving into someone’s psyche. The film then appears more tone-deaf than even the worse late-night Karaoke bar singers.
Then the script makes it even harder to enjoy because, well, it doesn’t actually explore the characters. Yup, that’s right, the very thing it had going for it doesn’t even get used! In fact, they choose only one character to take a deeper look at…and that doesn’t even work.
I don’t know a lot about Hornby’s source material; however, I have to believe that since he wrote the novels that gave us High Fidelity, About a Boy, and Fever Pitch, the novel explores the premise a lot better. Part of the inherent appeal of books are that readers get to learn about the characters more. This makes me believe it probably works better on the page than the screen.
If you had to sum A Long Way Down up in a sentence it’d be pretty simple: a promising premise, a promising and well-balanced cast, but a wasted opportunity to use either or both. Similarly, if you had to sum up A Long Way Down with a recommendation or not, I’d simply tell you to skip it.
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