A Long Way Down Blu-ray Review
Depression and suicide are hard subjects to tackle in any format. It is especially tough when you bring humor to the table. “Better Off Dead” did this brilliantly 30 years with John Cusack playing a teen trying to get over a nasty breakup. The key to that film working was the zaniness of it all. A LONG WAY DOWN takes a different tack. It is more in the dark comedy realm with some deep dramatic scenes thrown in. It is a pleasant enough film. It goes over easily, but it is quickly forgotten.
A LONG WAY DOWN is adapted from a Nick Hornby novel of the same name. You may remember that Hornby’s novels “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy” were successfully transferred to the big screen previously. There was a buoyancy and vitality to those projects. Hornby loves incorporating music in his novels and those movies were no different.
A LONG WAY DOWN focuses on four characters that had the same purpose on the same night. The night would be New Year’s Eve and their purpose was to jump off the Toppers Building in London. Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) was a successful morning show host with a wife and two kids. Then he had a sex scandal with an underage girl and all that went away. Maureen Thompson (Toni Collette) is a single mother struggling trying to take care of her disabled son Matty (Josef Altin). She doesn’t have a life and figures the state would take care of her son better than her. Jess Crichton (Imogen Potts) is the daughter of a politician. Her sister disappeared two years ago and her love life is in shambles. J.J. Maguire (Aaron Paul) is a failed musician who is going aimlessly through his life. He is frankly tired of being tired.
You know what type of film this is when Maureen tells Martin to hurry up his attempt. That is the type of material we are dealing with here. All four people eventually decide not to end their life. They sign a pact where they will at least wait until Valentine’s Day to off themselves. This holiday is picked since it is second behind New Year’s Day in suicide attempts.
Screenwriter Jack Thorne divides the story into four sections. Each character gets to tell his or her story. Even with this format, we still don’t get to know too much about these people. You learn little tidbits here and there. I wanted even more background to see how they ticked. Martin is having a hard time with his infamy and humiliation. Jess is still not handling her sister’s disappearance well and that her parents don’t seem to connect with her or her plight. Maureen’s life revolves around her son and it is overwhelming. J.J. at first tells the group he is dying from brain cancer. That isn’t true and he seems to be having the most difficulty.
Martin has the bright idea to try to cash in on their predicament after their pact is revealed in the paper. This does not go exactly as planned. The group then goes away together for a vacation to get away from the spotlight. Revelations are revealed and some friendships are frayed.
As said previously, Hornby loves putting music into the action. Here it is a bit obtrusive and obvious. One scene has them dancing to “I Will Survive”. I groaned at the obvious meaning behind including this. One big thing that the film has going for it is it seems the actors enjoyed working with each other. You can just tell with their expressions and body language. I did want to spend more time with them. That is saying much.
A LONG WAY DOWN may not be a classic film in any sense. It won’t stay with you. It is just a nice experience with four characters you care about. There is good message of hope that everyone should strive for.
Video: The colors are so vibrant here that it makes London and Spain feel alive.
Sound: The sound was decent. I did have to put the closed captioning on since English accents can be tricky to hear.
Deleted Scenes (8:07): Seven scenes in all. There is more material from the hospital in the beginning. There is also more interaction with the talk show host. We see the ex-wife of Martin, who isn’t present at all in the finished film. There is also a different ending.
Making of A Long Way Down: Jumping in with Cast and Crew (8:26): The four lead actors and two supporting actors discuss their characters. The director talks about what drew him to the story. Author Nick Hornby tells what inspired him to write the novel.
On Toppers Tower: A Behind the Scenes View (1:36): This is a brief feature showing how they made the opening scene with green screen.
Working with the Director (2:15): The cast and crew have a dialogue about working with Director Pascal Chaumeil. A couple of the actors mention that he is French and they were pleasantly surprised that he got the English humor.
Adapting the Story (3:27): Nick Hornby was pleased in the adaption of his book. Screenwriter Jack Thorne discusses the difficulties in adapting the book.
AXS: TV: A Look at Long Way Down (2:10): This is a short feature describing the film.