Review: A LONG WAY DOWN (2014) fans of the Nick Hornby book may be disappointed at this watered down version

July 13, 2014


A LONG WAY DOWN (2014) Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Rosamund Pike, Sam Neill. Directed by Pascal Chaumeil

Fans of the novel by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About A Boy) may be disappointed with this adaptation by screenwriter Jack Thorne and director Pascal Chaumeil. The dark dramedy about four strangers who unintentionally meet on the rooftop of a London high rise on New Years eve to commit suicide has been watered down from the edgy novel by Hornby with a majority of the darker material omitted. What's left is an attempt at comedy that unfortunately isn't very funny most of the time.

Martin (Pierce Brosnan), Maureen (Toni Collette), Jess (Imogen Poots), and JJ (Aaron Paul) all had the same idea, find the tallest building in London on NYE and jump off it. After converging on the rooftop at almost the same time, they agree to make a pact and postpone their suicides until Valentine's Day to see if things improve.

The film doesn't explore the back-story about what brought each one of them to the point of wanting to end it all, instead they reveal to one another their situations. Martin, a once popular television host, lost his job and marriage after he slept with an underage girl who he thought was twenty five and so he served some time in prison. Maureen is a single mom who was overcome by the stress of living with a disabled teenager. Jess is a young girl who was dumped by her boyfriend, and JJ is a musician who tells the group he has brain cancer.

I like this cast but they are working with a script that makes the performances seem artificial, and judging by what was left out from the novel it seems like the film makers were a little scared of the material, so then why make the film.

At one time Johnny Depp had bought the rights to the book before it was published and he had hired writer D.V. DeVincentis (High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank) to write the screenplay but for some reason when the rights came up for renewal, Hornby awarded them to his partner and another producer. It's a shame because I'm interested to see where Depp would have taken this story.

(2 stars)