Based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, Brit-com ‘A Long Way Down’ takes a sideways glance at the morbid area of suicide but through the eyes of fairly likeable characters. Pascal Chaumeil directs the star-studded cast of Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul who portray lost souls in London and meet on New Year’s Eve at the top of a tower block, ready to throw themselves to their untimely deaths. Ridiculous in its premise, it becomes quite watchable as long as you don’t take it too seriously. The green screen work as they teeter on the edge is nicely crafted and generates decent suspense early on.
From the initial introductions, the narrative is cut into four slices, giving each character their piece of the pie and a back-story as to why they wound up becoming a member of the ‘Topper House Four’. Its all very fluffy and light-hearted for a film about such mixed up individuals, and bond developed between them is amusing but never quite reaches the big laughs you would hope for. It picks up when the gang of misfits take an unexpected holiday to soak up some sun and forget their troubles, trying the well worn idea best implemented in Sideways that you can run away from your surroundings but can’t escape yourself.
The casting is clever, especially Brosnan as disgraced morning telly personality Martin Sharp. He’s pompous, has a slimy charm and wears converse trainers in his fifties so Pierce seems to be the right man for the job. I also rather enjoyed the dialogue between Poots and Paul, the latter still reaping the buzz and benefits from his Breaking Bad role, his mysterious bad boy image working well for him as troubled pizza boy J.J. I actually think its one of Poots’ strongest roles, and the eccentric spoilt brat Jess whom she portrays brings the most laughs and best one liners to the table. Collette, despite having the darkest story, is probably the most forgettable. Rising star Joe Cole is brilliant for all of five minutes as Jess’ spaced out party-animal ex but unfortunately he doesn’t stick around.
The concept of the piece is an interesting one to digest but it treads too closely between humour and gloom without getting funny or sinister enough. Perhaps it’s a story that works better as a book than a film, as it might be easier to buy such an unbelievable story when you have to conjure up the images in your head of the complex personas involved. ‘A Long Way Down’ is a good bit of fun, if a little throwaway, and will leave you with a smile and no immediate urge to seek out the nearest tenement.