A Long Way Down Review – Not the Suicide Fall Some Say

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"A Long Way Down," from Magnolia Pictures and BBC Films, brings to the screen a blended misfit family of four lost souls who find themselves uncommonly united as fate throws down a challenge stopping their perfectly planned ending.

 

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Potts, Aaron Paul and Sam Neil, "A Long Way Down" is directed by Pascal Chaumeil based on the acclaimed novel by Nick Hornsby and was adapted for the screen by Jack Thorne.

"A Long Way Down" opens with voice over by as Pierce Brosnan as Martin Sharpe, the disgraced darling of Britain's morning television who after a series of missteps including criminal dalliances is now a pariah, lonely, divorced without the hope of another People's Choice Award he heads off this New Year's Eve to Topper House Tower, London's most famous suicide sight to end it all.

The best laid plans, of course, come to a screeching halt as we meet at the top, Maureen, played by Toni Collette, a single mother of a severely physically challenged adult son, who we don't meet until later in the film, on New Year's Eve we find that she , quirky and conservative, decides if she were dead the medical care for her son would be better and then our two other New Year's Eve misfits, a pizza delivery boy, J.J. played by Aaron Paul, and lastly Jess, played by Imogen Potts, a loud, foul mouthed, deeply suffering and injured London Party Girl looking to fill a missing void.

As the story progresses the cliché of suicide on New Year's Eve ends up being a wash and the four decide Valentine's Day is the more appropriate holiday for a suicide pact.

It turns out Sharpe is still quite the tabloid fodder as is Jess, who's father, played by Sam Neill, as a distinguished parliamentarian politician, is hoping to put out any smoldering fires set on by the frenzied paparazzi still thirsty for a sensational story as the fresh grave of his family's disturbing skeletons burst forth as we find Jess' injury steams not from being spoiled, privileged or bad parenting but a sadder revelation as her sister went missing two years ago, vanished, leaving the family paralyzed with grief.

The four decide to tackle the media, possibly earning a few pounds along with fifteen minutes, who expectedly blindside them forcing Jess, clearly the most vulnerable and unstable, into an intentional meltdown.

Sharpe takes the lead and the four, unsure of their next steps as the tabloids have their story, which is quite grand, head off on holiday ushering in a new dimension to their gelling relationship.

If "A Long Way Down" remained living in the depression of the four lives that brought them together it would be over quick and fortunately it doesn't.  "A Long Way Down" doesn't stay down, slowly bringing transition to the film, over the course of six weeks, as incremental highpoints begin to filter through the London Fog.

I enjoyed watching Pierce Bronson playing a character that was not indestructible, someone who had almost fatal flaws, still ruggedly handsome, and this character could usher in a transitional time in his career.  Possibly the chiseled super agent is behind him, but the solid man, with flaws, a vulnerable man, is always in need.

Imogen Potts is a star on the rise. She is exceptional, and continues to deliver solid performances. She hits her character arch so smoothly that in the six weeks from New Year's Eve to Valentine's Day, it is almost a spiritual deliverance of the hidden demons gnawing at her.

Toni Collette is as impressive as always. Her quirkiness is somewhat overplayed in parts switching from the fawning fan to suicidal to caregiver, which at the time she is introduced the audience doesn't understand the multi dimensional personality, and her suicide plans end, without further mental invasion.

Aaron Paul is new to the big screen, although no stranger to acting as he starring in the critically acclaimed "Breaking Bad" cable series. He brings rawness, a fish out of water; he is an American and plays one in the film. Life isn't as easily fixed for J.J. and Paul portrays that, his home is across the pond, no support system and clearly no one needs him, his passion and hope both left him, abandoned in a foreign country. He plays the desperation without physically presenting it.

"A Long Way Down" has been given the keys to Topper's Tower by the mainstream media leaving a note behind suggesting the film is doomed and a quick R.I.P. is best.

I've heard and read scathing reviews and I wonder if we're watching the same film. Clearly "A Long Way Down" is not a period defining piece, not a laugh till my sides ached and doubtful it will win awards and yet it is not the worst film even in current release.

Honestly, "A Long Way Down," is not the suicide fall that others say, isn't going to rule the box office, and it isn't bad either.

 "A Long Way Down" opens in select cities July 11, 2014 and is VOD and other streaming platforms.

 

 

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