Combustible Celluloid
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With: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Rosamund Pike, Sam Neill, Tuppence Middleton, Joe Cole, Josef Altin
Written by: Jack Thorne, based on a novel by Nick Hornby
Directed by: Pascal Chaumeil
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 96
Date: 07/11/2014

A Long Way Down (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Suicidal Tendencies

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Adapted from Nick Hornby's 2005 novel, A Long Way Down has been turned into one of those slick, quirky-funny art-house comedy-dramas that a lot of people will enjoy, a lot of people will hate and most people will forget all about. Me? I enjoyed it, and I find myself hanging onto it, but mostly because of the interesting combination of its cast members, and the way they communally grapple with hopelessness.

Four disparate souls, Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan), Maureen Thompson (Toni Collette), J.J. Maguire (Aaron Paul), and Jess Crichton (Imogen Poots) find themselves on the same London rooftop on New Year's Eve, all planning to commit suicide. Human nature kicks in and they manage to keep each other from taking the dive. They form a pact not to kill themselves until Valentine's Day.

Martin, a television personality with career-ruining troubles, decides to take command of the situation and spin the story; the quartet goes on television and tells stories about their spiritual experience and how it changed all of them. Rosamund Pike plays Martin's former on-air partner, who doesn't help much. The four then go on a vacation, which leads to the inevitable moment when someone's lie is revealed.

Pascal Chaumeil directs with a style that's not particularly different from anything else you might have seen, but it's his casting that really helps. The personalities and charisma, and also the chemistry, of these four sad souls makes the screen crackle any time they're together. And even though it drifts off into a happy ending and sometimes forgets what life is like, it's nice to see a movie that at least acknowledges how lost we can all become.

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