Tacky is the only word that seems appropriate to describe this film: tacky and maybe a little foolish.
Four strangers, Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ meet on top of a tall building on New Year’s Eve all brought together by their mutual want to jump off said building. Instead of diving to their deaths, they instead agree to make a pact like all good strangers do to not kill themselves until Valentine’s Day. Why do you ask would four strangers agree upon such a personal request? The movie would like you to believe that these four are kindred spirits, brought together by their depressive tendencies. My personal take is that the filmmakers, like Martin, thought the story would be terribly sweet and maudlin with maybe a touch of humor and that we’d ignore small implausible inconsistencies like believing four strangers would make a pact with little protest and then laugh about it while watching the well timed sunrise.
To put it nicely, this film is a bit of a gross miscalculation. Using suicide as the driving force behind a story is always going to be tricky and movies that deal with the serious subject matter need to be befitted with the intelligence to handle such matter intelligently.
To put it frankly, this film is insulting. There are questions from the get go. Why do these people enjoy each other’s company beyond the calculated need of them to be in scenes together for the story to work? Why on earth am I supposed to root for Martin when his character’s story derives from him sleeping with an underage girl and then defending himself by saying she looked 25? Why do I care what happens to them when their four backstories are hardly touched upon and rather brushed through quickly but covered up with overbearing musical cues and sunsets or dancing or frolicking in the ocean waves so that the appears to have a message rather than being simply a mess.
Now, I’ll clarify by saying that films can tell stories about suicide without it being overtly sanctimonious or offensive. I’m sure films can even tell stories with suicide involved and even inject humor into them. However, this story cannot and did not. Based on the novel written by Nick Hornby (who wrote the much better About a Boy which was accompanied by the much better film adaptation) and then filmed and adapted by Pascal Chaumeil and Jack Thorne, this film falls into all of the tropes of meet cutes as well as creating a disastrous screenplay that jumps from Plot A to Plot B with no rhyme or rhythm and introduces new problems or characteristics that are forgotten in a moment’s notice.
But what about the acting you ask? Surely with such a fine cast there should be something salvageable in this grossly obtuse film.
What about Pierce Brosnan? He’s good, right?
He’s good in the fact that he seems to be the only one in on the idea that Martin is insufferable and plays him as such, allowing his cowardly and selfish personality traits to shine through even if it wasn’t the writers intent.
Or how about Toni Collette? She was fantastic in About a Boy and can make the most of the worst material.
She surely can when she’s actually given material to work with. However, she seems mostly like an afterthought.
Imogen Poots? Isn’t she always the next big thing?
She could be if she channeled her charismatic energy into better movie choices.
Jesse Pinkman! Come on, Aaron Paul is riding high right now.
Yes, Jesse Pinkman. Everything we see Paul do in this film we’ve seen him do before and better with Jesse Pinkman.
When I first saw this trailer I thought I might like this film and now, after seeing the film I think I would have done better with stopping at the trailer. This film is a prime example of missed opportunities and wasted talent.
But hey- Life Itself and Begin Again are out this week!
A Long Way Down is now available OnDemand as well as to rent through Amazon or iTunes and will have a limited run in theaters on July 11th.