Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A Long Way Down

A Long Way Down
Pascal Chaumeil // 2014 // 96 mins

Four people from very different paths meet on New Years Eve when each of them plans to commit suicide by jumping from the same building top. The chance encounter spurs the group to not follow through with their plans and instead form a surrogate family through which they will support one another and make sure that they don't end up back on that rooftop, at least until Valentine's Day.

Adapted from Nick Hornby's novel of the same name, A Long Way Down splits its narrative amongst the four leads ensuring each character is given their own chance in the spotlight, though it provides only a fleeting insight into each of their troubled pasts. Pierce Brosnan takes on the film's lead as Martin, a disgraced TV presenter recently released from prison, delivering a quiet but engaging performance. Toni Collette's Maureen receives a much meatier role as the lonely mother//carer to her disabled son. Her internal conflict is never fully explored but Collette is fantastic as the reserved woman who feels helpless in her tragic situation, Maureen's turmoil is the most affecting of the four as she struggles to find the best solution to improve both her own life and her son's.

Imogen Poots provides the film's most bracing character and the hardest to initially connect with; Jess is crass, confrontational and loud. Poots is great at inhabiting these characteristics but due to the films structure there is no easing us into her character, she is a firecracker who abruptly arrives shouting her mouth off and it is only as the story delves into her troubled relationship with her politician father and her desire for affection that these traits become more subdued and she is made into a more charming, relatable character. The character is who disappointingly receives the least backstory and development is Aaron Paul's washed up musician JJ, he is endearing, constantly interesting and probably the one who needs this rag-tag group of friends the most, but much of his story is left untold making him feel the least complete.

Though it's premise is dark, A Long Way Down proves to be an uplifting story of four people starting a new chapter in their lives after hitting rock bottom. Even without properly delving into the individual stories of how each character got to be how they are, their literary roots ensure that they feel real and complex. A fondness of the four actors will undoubtedly help the viewer to engage with these characters, but it is not necessary as their charm and their struggles provide enough fodder to retain interest. Though not as funny or profound as it maybe should have been the film is an enjoyable, often touching, depiction of people helping one another see that their lives can get better.

No comments :

Post a Comment