Release Date: 21st March 2014
Running Time: 96 minutes
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Toni Colette, Rosamund Pike
You’re standing on the edge of a building; mists swirling around you, with only the sound of the traffic far below – you are the loneliest person alive right now. That is, until the next in line speaks up from the shadows. Welcome to Topper’s House – the most sought-after suicide spot in Northern London and the meeting point for four of the most insipid characters ever brought to life on the big screen.
Based on Nick Hornby’s novel, A Long Way Down is the story of four very different would-be jumpers who are (un)fortunate enough to cross paths at the precipice of this morbid landmark moments before the clocks chime and they are forced, unwilling, into a new year (note to self: do not attempt to leap from an infamous suicide locale on the most popular night of the year – you will only incur foot traffic). This ragtag bunch include: Martin (Brosnan) – an ex-daytime TV host whose marriage and family life ceased to exist the moment he slept with a 15 year girl (he didn’t know she was underage, they never do) who, having lost his job and done his time for said paedophilia, decides the only way out of the spotlight is down; Maureen (Collette) – the quiet, mousy one of the group whom the rest assume is simply lonely and therefore suicidal, but may be hiding another (completely nonsensical) reason for dying; JJ (Paul) – the token Yank of the four, he’s a young, handsome singer/pizza delivery boy, a man of few words (thankfully) who claims cancer has rung the final bell, and Jess (Poots) – the emotionally-unstable, stereotypical blonde youngster with a family tragedy to blame and daddy issues to boot. Once assembled, the one-dimensional characters quickly decide it must be fate and back a hasty retreat to lower ground, where they promptly embark on the 21st Century pursuit of fame in the face of adversity (ie, splashing their ‘incredible’ recovery story all over the pages of the tabloids). Needless to say, this doesn’t end well.
With only these four main characters to play with, an oddly chosen and intrusive soundtrack and irritatingly high number of close ups and fades throughout, it is safe to say A Long Way Down is not a theatrical masterpiece. What is perhaps a little surprising is to see such wooden and stilted performances from a fairly respectable cast. Brosnan brings absolutely no warmth or emotional depth to his intolerable character’s reformation; even when Martin supposedly grows closer to the group, Brosnan only succeeds in looking like an advanced robot who has just been programmed to smile. Aaron Paul (best known for the award-winning TV series, Breaking Bad) looks awkward and out of place at all times, perhaps wondering what his manager has got him into. Meanwhile Poots goes all in with her performance, which only results in you wanting to beat her in to submission.
They say it’s not the fear of death it’s the fear of dying that scares most people in those final few moments. Having spent 96 minutes dying slowly inside whilst watching A Long Way Down, I’m on the side of Death – the end could not come quickly enough.