REVIEW: A Long Way Down (2014)

Making their world premiere guests wait for 30 minutes, while signing autographs on the red carpet, the cast of Pascal Chaumeil’s A Long Way Down were met at Friedrichsstadtpalast, one of Berlinale’s biggest venues, packed to the last seat.

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London, New Year’s Eve. Humiliated and deprived of the will to live, breakfast TV host Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) finds himself on the rooftop of a London office tower – ready to end his miserable existence. His plan however, is crossed by three other lost souls: Maurenn (Toni Colette), who feels helpless and exhausted of tending to her disabled son; Jess (Imogen Poots), a Politicians daughter, who can’t cope with her sister’s sudden disappearance and feels left alone by her father; and JJ (Aaron Paul), who doesn’t even begin to grasp the reasons for his life-draining depression. Bonding over their common intent, they agree to stay alive for another six weeks – an commit suicide on the second-most popular day: February 14.

Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, Chaumeil’s adaptation rests on the shoulders of its excellent cast and their eccentric characters. Facing interrogative reporters and emotional downfalls, the four move together and form some kind of surrogate family. As they try to escape, their relationships change, tighten and fall apart. Although their group is mainly held together by Jess’ efforts to build real friendships, it is Maureen, and with her Toni Colette who is the true heart of the film. Her innocent naivety makes us smile and hesitate at the same time. When you sacrifice yourself to taking care of someone else, your own life passes by you quicker than it should. With incredible wit and tear-evoking emotions, she steals everybody’s show.

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The questions the film evokes are as manifold as the characters themselves. How can an individual overcome loneliness and depression? Where is the line between public interest and exploitation by the press? How do you ask for help without showing weakness? How do you deal with the daily obstacles of life? Of course, the film does not – can not – answer these, but it presents four souls that were close to the end, but found hope and support in each other. Maybe we should all do that.

In UK cinemas from March 21! Watch the trailer:

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