A Long Way Down

Adapted from another one of Nick Hornby's novels, A Long Way Down depicts the lives of four different people and when their paths intertwine on one New Year's Eve. When the project was first announced, I was rather excited, primarily because Hornby is a prominent author, and his novel adaptations have been spurning out good material. I haven't seen High Fidelity yet, but I did enjoy About a Boy, so I was hoping that the movie would be good, at least. Well, it wasn't what I expected.

Fleet Tower was famous for the number of suicides the building has encounter, and this was the setting where the four leads would first meet. Martin, a disgraced television host was on the verge of jumping because his life has fallen apart. On his contemplation to jump, he was interrupted by Maureen, and eventually Jess and JJ joined the picture. With everything else that was happening that night, the four made a pact that they would not take their lives between New Year's and Valentines day, but their quiet living became disturbed when their pact is leaked to the press, and the four were pushed into the spotlight.

I haven't finished reading the source material, but the film had a rather comic way of going about their issues. Through the four narrations, the director was able to give a bit of a background to the characters and how their lives were going about. While the characters were very different indeed, they came off as static, one dimensional characters. Sure, there were eventual developments to the plot, but none of the four were really given ample substance to make the viewer empathize, or even like the said characters. While the four had proven that their pact was rather intact, there wasn't much personality for the characters to go on. 

Imogen Poots, who plays the rather childlike Jess, seems to be the life of the group, and can hold her end when it comes to being stoic and sad, but mostly her character seemed rather immature. Toni Collette, who plays Maureen, has the most emotional depth in the movie, considering that her character had warranted it. It was she, whom I thought dived into her character the most. Pierce Brosnan, who played Martin, tried to be aloof, and relaxed, or even make his self present in his scenes, but his co-stars were simply stealing his scenes, whether it be Rosamund Pike's rather cold performance, or Aaron Paul getting up on his face. Aaron Paul, who plays JJ, had somewhat of a critical role, but it seemed that he wasn't given too much to work with. While he didn't exactly fade, he wasn't as noticeable either. 

The movie tried to be charming, and despite what looks like a beautiful vacation spot, it really lacked charm. There wasn't much substance holding the group together, not do we really get to know more about the characters rather than the first impressions they project. As much as I would want to dive through the novel and pick out the pieces that were used in the movie, I can't, but it does make me want to read the novel just to see if it was similar. I found the movie to be mediocre, but I can't say the same about the source material. It lacked the emotions that can make it possible for the movie to take off, but if the characters themselves don't really feel warm, I don't think a depth is going to matter at all. I did like the camera work; it looked sharp and focused, and even when I was watching it, I felt like I was standing in the cold as they were. 

It had a good story, but it just had to be written in a captivating way, that gives these characters some kind of personality that is innate in the character. They can't just be floating from scene to scene, being their one-dimensional selves. There has to be something for the character that can either make the audience like him, or despise him. A character cannot be neutral, otherwise there is no point to the story. 

Final Word: It definitely needs improvement. It can also be that the novel was difficult to adapt; I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt on that one. 

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
Year: 2014

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