The suicide squad
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00J36357M][/pullquote] Based on a novel by Nick Hornby of the same name A Long Way Down is a high-concept comedy drama about a group of four suicidal people.
Disgraced former television host Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) decides to kill himself on New Year’s Eve by throwing himself from the top of a building in London. As he prepares to take the final leap, he is interrupted by single mother Maruuen (Toni Collette) who has a similar plan. As the two begin to talk obnoxious teenager Jess (Imogen Poots) and quiet pizza delivery boy/rocker JJ (Aaron Paul) also arrives on the rooftop. Amused by their joint plan, the four agree to not kill themselves at least until Valentine’s Day to see if they can turn their lives around.
The opening of the film, which focuses specifically on Brosnan’s Sharpe (dodgy cockney accent and all) sets the tone and style of the narrative with voiceover and short inter-connected scenes. His is actually the most problematic as it involves the original meet-up, which is so high-concept that it verges on the laughable and not in a good way.
Considering the subject matter, A Long Way Down does an impressive job of keeping the gallows humour the right side of unbearable. There are moments where the idea doesn’t work, but on the whole the performances of the central quartet, including a never better Paul hold everything together.
It bears a limited resemblance to the excellent A Late Quartet, which incidently also starred up-and-comer Poots. But whereas the former is a sublime and subtle view of four people whose lives seem out of their control, this film attempts to hide its flaws behind charm and comedy. It almost works too, with all four bringing something unique to their performances. Poots is probably the stand-out, although it may be that she simply talks the loudest.
Director Pacal Chaumeil does a passable job holding the disperate stories together and there are individual moments of brilliance and real drama, notably Marueen and her son’s story, but it does feel like a slight waste of an interesting premise.