A Long Way Down is director Pascal Chaumell’s screen adaptation of the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, who is best-known as the author of About a Boy and High Fidelity.
A black comedy with themes of grief, suicide and friendship, it is being screened here as part of the British Film Festival.
When the cast includes Toni Collette, you expect a film to be good. A Long Way Down also stars Pierce Brosnan, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), with minor roles played by Rosamunde Pike (About a Girl) and Sam Neill.
An unlikely group of strangers find themselves on the rooftop of a tall building on New Year’s Eve, each surprised to find they have chosen the same fate. It is an awkward moment which ends in the group making a pact to wait at least till Valentine’s Day before taking the leap.
The plot takes some interesting twists and turns as they discover more about each other’s lives and the source of each individual’s unhappiness. The group – a former television personality (Brosnan), a single parent of a severely disabled son (Collette), a pizza delivery person (Paul) and the rebellious daughter of a politician (Poots) – all end up on holiday together.
They find comfort in their shared hopelessness – and discover some home truths – before finding themselves back on the same rooftop the next Valentine’s Day.
A Long Way Down is touted as a black comedy, but the balance of dark and light isn’t quite right. The treatment of the suicide theme is a little too frivolous and there just aren’t enough laughs.
The film constantly hints at more, but I kept feeling disappointment as plot lines seemed to lead nowhere and none of the characters were explored more fully. Brosnan was Brosnan, Paul disappointed, Poots was cute and Collette didn’t offer much that was new, though she held it together.
I couldn’t wait for the film to end. Perhaps the problem was that Hugh Grant was missing.
A Long Way Down is screening at Palace Nova Eastend Cinema on November 7 and 13 as part of the British Film Festival, which runs until November 16.