A Long Way Down

The movie’s opening line, uttered by Pierce Brosnan: “Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to kill myself.”

This is a New Year’s movie for everyone who isn’t as bright-eyed and optimistic about 2015 as your typical holiday movie forces you to be.

As a humiliated ex-talk show host recently disowned by his family because of his conviction of a sex crime with an underage girl, Pierce Brosnan’s character trudges resolutely up a very tall building in order to throw himself off but there encounters a pizza delivery man with cancer (Aaron Paul), an overwrought, emotional wreck (Imogen Poots) and an exhausted caregiver (Toni Collette) all with the same intention – to commit suicide.

Imogen Poots is young and upset but the others see quickly that hers is a temporary problem and they work together to stop her attempt and she pays them back by making everyone agree to stay alive until Valentine’s day. They agree but the next six weeks only make their lives more tumultuous as the press gets ahold of their pact and they get dragged into the worst kind of fame.

This movie has a really strong A Long Way Downcast so it’s hard to believe how bad it is. Nick Hornby is often golden at the cinema (About a Boy, High Fidelity), and Johnny Depp snatched up the rights to this novel before it was even published. Having read the book, I knew it didn’t stand up to his other work but still wasn’t prepared to be so underwhelmed by this film.  The movie ricochets between total bleakness and ooey gooey moments it doesn’t quite earn. The actors, to their credit, bring some moments of true emotion to this uneven film but aren’t really able to save it, not even the excellent, bar-raising Toni Collette and the surprisingly good Poots, who are over-directed and under-trusted to do what (it felt to me) their instincts were begging to do. Pascal Chaumeil directs this charmlessly and fails to breathe any life into this story that is about so much more than death.

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