Sunday, 27 July 2014

A Long Way Down - film review

I’m not sure quite what I expected when I sat down to watch this film – a chick flick, a good old happy rom com – but A Long Way Down is neither of these. It’s a black comedy, with not so much emphasis on the comedy.

Four strangers meet one New Year’s Eve as they all separately decide to commit suicide from the roof of a very high building. For various reasons they all decide not to jump and instead make a pact to kill themselves the following Valentine’s Day. See what I mean by black?

The four main characters played by Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots all have distinctly different reasons for ending up in their sad situation; each has a different back story and different personality, but none of these are shown in anything but the scarcest of detail. This could be why I didn’t warm to any of the characters – except perhaps the mother played by Toni Collette (a little).

And then all four of them go on holiday to Tenerife. As you do.

A media storm later, Valentine’s Day arrives – and leaves again with a crisis point. All four then get on with their lives, presumably all the richer for having met each other. 

A Long Way Down is an adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel, which I have not read, so I don’t know how far the screenplay sticks to the truth of the book. As the credits rolled at the end I tried to work out how I felt about what I’d just seen. I found the storyline disturbing, but I had been expecting a rom com, which could explain that. Even so, the film left me feeling flat – I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t particularly like it either. I know it would have been impossible to create detailed lives for each of the four characters in just 92 minutes, but there could have been more than the superficial picture painted.

The press release that arrived with the DVD states Psychologies magazine found the film “Heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny”. It’s not. I would say it makes you smile in places, but the characters aren’t particularly likeable and my heart didn’t feel warmed. I don’t want to get heavy on you, but I thought the treatment of such a serious issue as suicide was glib, trite even. 

However the person watching the film with me enjoyed it.

Each to their own. 

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