“A Long Way Down”: Suicide Postponed By Topper House Four

A Long Way Down, the film adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel, caught my attention because of its theme: on New Year’s Eve four different individuals meet each other on the way (down) to suicide.

Many of the movie’s reviewers, however, have decidedly panned A Long Way Down. A couple excerpts:

Peter Debruge, Variety: “…(I)n movie form, it’s worse than tacky, trivializing depression for a handful of easy laughs and pop-psychology platitudes.”

Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com: “’A Long Way Down’ is a film that’s afraid of its subject matter: suicidal depression. One never senses any actual danger or urgency in the plight of these characters to battle their demons before they kill them, and the lack of any sense that these people might actually end their lives drains the piece of drama.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, offers a concise summary of the film and its characters:

All have reasons to end it all, and they meet at the top of a London tower block, a notorious suicide spot (perhaps a conflation of London’s Hornsey Lane Bridge and the ineffably grim Archway Tower).

A farcical turn of fate means they collectively decide not to go through with it, and form a supportive ‘gang’, whose brush with despair makes them of interest to the facile and exploitative media world.

Who are the “Topper House Four,” as they come to be known? Tim Robey, Telegraph:

Pierce Brosnan is Martin, a former breakfast TV host whose dalliance with a 15-year old (‘she looked 25’) has led to the abrupt end of his career and a stint in prison. Imogen Poots is Jess, manic-depressive pixie daughter of an MP (Sam Neill). Aaron Paul is JJ, a pizza delivery boy claiming to have brain cancer. And Toni Collette, making the best of it, is Maureen, a frumpy single mum whose son has cerebral palsy.

Says Peter Debruge, Variety, “Each of these individuals is a walking cliche, incapable of an original thought, even when it comes to making his or her exit.”

The trailer for A Long Way Down:

SELECTED REVIEWS

Brian Viner, Daily Mail: “…(D)irector Pascal Chaumeil doesn’t seem quite sure whether to play the story for laughs or to squeeze every pip of poignancy from it.” 

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: “…something like a non-musical Mamma Mia! for self-harmers: a wince-inducing parade of misjudgments and false notes. It is a fantastically unconvincing and unfunny movie, apparently determined to salvage a feel-good flavour from feel-bad material.”

Peter Debruge, Variety: “Plenty will find it adorable; the rest will be left wanting to slit their wrists.”

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