HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: A Long Way Down
HTS Overall Score:80
“A Long Way Down” is based off of a super depressing novel of the same name, penned by Nick Hornby, who wrote “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy” (both of which have been turned into films). I haven’t read the book, but the trailer for the film looked fairly mediocre and the critics hammered it mercilessly so I was truly expecting an awful experience when I viewed the film. Shockingly I had a really good time and enjoyed the movie immensely, so much so that I almost feeling guilty liking it so much amidst a hailstorm of press bashing the tar out of it. I have to agree with them in some ways that the story didn’t dig as “deep” or as “gritty” as it could have been, but the black comedy (or shall I say grey comedy as it’s a bit too light and airy to be considered true black comedy) and the main characters charms more than outweigh the bad in the film, in my humble opinion.
Suicide is a dark and rather gloomy subject, one where I think a lot of people expected the film to be saturated in despair, sadness or appeal to an incredible amount of pathos. I’ve been in that level of depression before, been close to that razor’s edge, so I understand why someone would expect a much more emotionally draining experience, but I found myself charmed by their poking fun at some of the harsh realities and creating a new sense of purpose out of the purposeless and macabre.
Martin (Pierce Brosnan) is a publically ridiculed and has been tv show host who happened to take a dive bomb from fame when he ended up making the mistake of mistaking a 15 year old for a 25 year old. After a crash from the public, a brief stint in jail and a nasty divorce there seems very little left to live for, son on New Year’s Eve he’s up on the tallest high rise that he can find in order to take a swan dive. Once up there he finds out that that you just can’t kill yourself in peace as Maureen (Toni Collette), Jess (Imogen Poots) and J.J. (Aaron Paul) all converge on the rooftop to go through the same actions that Martin is going to do. Getting cold feet, the quartet backs down and decides that they won’t try again till the next common holiday for deaths, Valentine’s Day.
Now between then and now the four forms a sort of a misfit family of sorts, bonding over their want to end it all and slowly opening up to each other. Maureen is a single mother of a handicapped child, Jess is the heir to a political fortune who has suffered a loss of a family member and J.J. keeps his cards close to the vest (albeit under a blunt and obvious disguise) and Martin is your standard Pierce Brosnan infused pompous windbag. Each one of them wants help, that much is obvious and much of society doesn’t really understand them, so the four bond on the one common factor in the life, the one thing that they share in common (since they so obviously don’t share much of a commonality with anything else in their lives). From this dysfunctional family they start to realize that that it’s less finding something to live for, but actually finding something that you really think is worth dying for.
The film doesn’t saturate itself in a layer of seriousness that one would expect from the subject matter and doesn’t create a comedy so black that it’s almost indistinguishable from that seriousness (as so many black comedies end up doing). Instead it relies more on the charming relationships of the characters and the chemistry the actors have with each other. I fully admit that there are some flaws in the movies (and books) implementation, as they are hard to miss. The characters aren’t as deep and tortured as you would expect or sometimes want and the creators tried a bit too hard to create that “happy ending” that was so obviously coming. However, that being said I found the relationships between the four to charming and funning (yes, I’ve said charming several times in this review, but that’s the best way to describe it), albeit a little lacking at times. Toni Collette is the real show stealer here as I don’t think I’ve seen a film she’s been in where she doesn’t stand out as the best part. Pierce Brosnan is his normal blustery self and Imogen Poots is spot on as the snotty, foul mouthed almost teen. Aaron Paul is unfortunately wasted, and while he does a serviceable job, his part doesn’t really give him much to play with. It’s especially saddening considering that he’s got a lot of talent, but his post “Breaking Bad” work just hasn’t met with much success lately.
As I said before, I almost feel bad for enjoying it as much as I did, and feel like the black sheep amount film critics, because my experience didn’t even come close to theirs. It may not hold true for every viewer, but I have no problems recommending it for a watch to see if you’re as charmed as I was and certainly think it’s worthy of watching.
Rated R for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=26193[/img]“A Long Way Down” comes to us on Blu-ray with a very VERY nice 2.40:1 AVC encode thanks to Magnolia studios. The story is fantastic and the crisp British landscape is just as fantastic as we go through the whole gambit of seasons and the different textures they give to the films storytelling. Colors tend to be bright and cheerful, with some somber greys and whites for the more serious moments of the film, particularly during the attempted suicide sequences (although the snowy Valentine’s Day finale looks hauntingly beautiful with the snow covered rooftop), and skin tones are very natural and ruddy looking. The holiday gambit has a bit of a golden hue to it and seems a bit brighter and cheerier than many of the other portions of the film. Detail is quite strong and there is no shortage of instances where you can marvel at all the little intricacies of higher definition, specifically in the skin blemishes on Imogen Poots and the grungy “emo” clothing of Aaron Paul’s outfits throughout the film. Black levels are excellent and show no instances of black crush, with only a few instances of where I wish they had been a bit deeper and less grey (only a few sequences).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=26201[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is almost as strong as the video, and just a HAIR under a 4.5/5 rating. I wrestled with the decision for a while, as it hovers just on that edge, but there was this nagging thought that those surrounds could have used a bit more activity to really make it a 4.5/5 track. Dialogue is spot on and I have no complaints with the balance of the track. Vocals are easily heard and show no signs of distortion or not being centered in the front sound stage. LFE is solid, but mild, adding a bit of weight to the track’s more contemplative scenes and thickening up the score with some boom boom when needed. The surrounds were used quite nicely as you hear the rush and roar of traffic in the British streets and the laughter of families during their little holiday, but the front sound stage still took priority and I felt that the surrounds could have used a bit more activity. Still the track is excellent in every way and really does the job quite well.
• Deleted Scenes
• Making of "A Long Way Down": Jumping in with cast and Crew
• On Toppers Tower: A Behind the Scenes View
• Working With The Director
• Adapting the Story
• AXS TV: A Look at "A Long Way Down"
I really liked being pleasantly surprised, and “A Long Way Down” certainly surprised me. I was expecting a somber drama and instead found myself watching a very sweet and raw drama that had a beautifully quirky level of humor injected into the film to keep both the viewer and the characters from losing what makes it sweet and poignant. I laughed, I wiped a tear or so away and then laughed again as I breezed through the hour and a half runtime. There are a few moments where you listen to a line and realize that they started to spread the peanut butter a bit thicker, but watching “A Long Way Down” was never boring, and never a bad moment. It doesn’t try too hard to appeal to pathos, but instead gives us a glimpse into the mind of someone who has been so desperate, so agonized that they wanted to end it all, the pain, the suffering, the loneliness, and focuses on what makes them tick instead of trying to get the viewer to emote and feel good/bad for them. The audio and video are excellent and this even has some rather substantial extras so I heartily recommend it for a viewing.
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Aaron Paul, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots
Directed byascal Chaumeil
Written by: Jack Thorne (Screenplay), Nick Hornby (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 9th 2014
Buy A Long Way Down Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check It Out
More about Mike