A Long Way Down (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner26/02/2014

One out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Badly written, poorly directed and woefully misguided, this is a painfully unfunny comedy that should have been put out of its misery at the scripting stage, since neither the characters, the performances, the situations or the dialogue ring true.

What's it all about?
Directed by Pascal Chaumeil, A Long Way Down is adapted from the 2005 novel and stars Pierce Brosnan as Martin Sharp, a former TV presenter who is planning to commit suicide after the end of both his marriage and his career, following a spell in prison for sleeping with a 15 year old girl. Intending to jump from the top of a notorious London suicide spot on New Year's Eve, he's preparing to do the deed when he's interrupted by frumpy single mother Maureen (Toni Collette), swiftly followed by two more would-be suicides with the same idea: perky, impetuous 18 year old Jess (Imogen Poots) and American pizza delivery dude JJ (Aaron Paul), who tells them all he has inoperable brain cancer.

After Jess accidentally takes an overdose, the quartet make a pact that they will support each other and try not to kill themselves until the next suicide-friendly date, which they determine to be Valentine's Day. However, Jess' status as the daughter of a prominent MP (Sam Neill) means that their story becomes a media sensation, so Martin whisks them off on a holiday to Tenerife to escape the limelight.

The Bad
A Long Way down is woefully misguided from beginning to end, not least in its assumption that any of the audience will be willing to root for a main character who's a convicted paedophile TV presenter, particularly in the wake of the Jimmy Saville scandal. That alone should have been enough to see the movie shelved, but it gets considerably worse, since none of the characters are remotely convincing or sympathetic, to the point where you're actively willing them to get on with it, suicide-wise.

The performances are equally awful: Poots does her best and at least succeeds in giving her (admittedly still irritating) character a bit of unpredictability, but Brosnan hits a career low with his performance as Martin, grimacing through every scene and failing to deliver a single line in convincing fashion. Similarly, Paul is in danger of throwing away all the goodwill built up by his stellar performance in TV's Breaking Bad with his lacklustre turn as JJ, though to be fair, he's poorly served by a dismal script that leaves his character frustratingly ill-defined.

The Worse
It's debateable whether any director could have made this material work, but Chaummeil (whose comic credentials are in no doubt after Heartbreaker) struggles to find the right tone and the supposedly amusing set-pieces (including a TV appearance on Martin's former breakfast show) fall embarrassingly flat. However, the biggest problem is that not a second of it rings true, from the characters to their interactions, to the appalling dialogue.

Worth seeing?
A Long Way Down is a complete disaster from beginning to end. Avoid like your life depended on it.

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Content updated: 26/09/2015 08:24

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