Review: A Long Way Down (2014)

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A Long Way Down, the unnecessary and inexcusably maudlin film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s best-selling novel, turns a darkly funny story about four downbeat individuals – Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan), a disgraced TV presenter; Maureen (Toni Collette), a worn out carer to her disabled son; JJ (Aaron Paul), a failed musician; and Jess (Imogen Poots), the compulsive daughter of a politician – who form a suicide pact into a hackneyed, tasteless excuse for a comedy. The script, written by Jack Thorne, trades in the books convincing tonal shifts between comedy and drama for shrill sentimentality. As a result, the dramatic elements in the film either come across as false, or feel as if they’ve been awkwardly shooed in, rather than being in any way, shape or form organic to the narrative – something that’s worsened by Pascal Chaumeil’s one-note, superficial direction, as if the reality of these characters’ pain is too somber to even acknowledge. Collette tries her best to claw back some of the book’s moral and emotional heart, but can only do so much considering the material and less interested co-stars she has to work with. It’s certainly not an unwatchable film, but it’s one of the most unfavorable of recent memory.

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