Occasionally, I sit down and look for films I’ve never heard of. Sometimes I come across very good independent and/or foreign films worthy of my time. This was the case with ‘A Long Way Down’, a movie that I stumbled across on IMDB and managed to find on Netflix. I didn’t look for reviews or anything beforehand, instead deciding to just go in with a clean slate approach and see what came of it. Turns out I had a decent time watching this film.
The plot revolves around four individuals – Martin, Maureen, Jess, and J.J – who meet by chance on New Year’s Eve on a rooftop where all of them planned to commit suicide. For some reason or another, they don’t, instead this moment unites them. They all have troubles in their life and all had a reason to escape it. As the movie progresses, their story gets out to the press and complications arise, so the group go into hiding together in the hopes of finding something meaningful to live for. Having lost people to suicide, I do take the subject rather seriously, so I was curious to see how this movie would approach such a delicate matter. I hoped it would perhaps inspire those with problems to look at life in a new angle and to seek help.
The movie had such potential, that it never really tapped into. The cast is wonderfully talented, but unfortunately the script didn’t make use of that as well as it could have; a weak script can hold back even the strongest set of actors. That said, Pierce Brosnan, Aaron Paul, Toni Collette, and Imogen Poots all worked really well together. Throughout the movie you were given an insight into their character and for many, you learn why they considered suicide in the first place. With an interesting concept and impressive cast, it’s a shame that the film just lost its way somewhere in the middle, after a strong start.
The movie will certainly take you on a tumultuous journey; it leads you in one direction for a while, and then very quickly changes course. Be prepared, it will do that three or four times throughout the movie. Whilst that helps to keep it from being completely predictable, it also feels like it wasn’t necessary at times. Sometimes the best route is the most direct one. That was the films biggest issue, it fell apart a bit and instead of hitting something legitimately unique, it ventured down a more familiar path. There was no sign of the insight or inspiration for change that I was hoping to see. Not that there has to be this great epiphany at the end of the movie or anything, but you do find yourself attached to these generally likable characters. We root for them to find reasons to live, they get tangled in this mess together and it kind of drifts off topic for a while before wrapping things up.
This isn’t the greatest film ever made, not even close. There is so much untapped potential that will never be. However, the cast is lovely, providing some very touching moments, and plenty of dry humor to contrast to this. ‘A Long Way Down’ takes a very personal and serious topic and sheds some light onto the subject even if it is unpleasant to consider. If you find yourself bored and just want to put a film on and relax for the evening, this movie would work nicely.
DIRECTOR: PASCAL CHAUMEIL
STARRING: PIERCE BROSNAN, AARON PAUL, TONI COLLETTE, IMOGEN POOTS