Without falling into the common trap of being too sappy, A Long Way Down manages to skirt a fine line and remain heartwarming and mostly entertaining.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by author Nick Hornby and begins with Martin (Pierce Brosnan) describing why he has decided to kill himself. Martin’s TV career went into the toilet after a large scandal broke and he evidently reached his limit, with a planned death date of New Year’s Eve.
Just as he is gearing up to jump, Maureen (Toni Collette) appears at the top of the stairwell, apologizes for disrupting him, and says she will wait for him to be done so she can use the ledge for herself.
Soon, Jess (Imogen Poots) and JJ (Aaron Paul) appear, hoping to use the same building to end their lives.
The group collectively decides to hold off on killing themselves, and later vows that they can’t commit suicide until at least Valentine’s Day.
Martin creates a plan to have the four of them appear on television and discuss how meeting each other saved their lives. The TV appearance makes them instant celebrities, attention that, it turns out, nobody wants. To get away from it the four of them take a vacation and continue to bond, until some secrets are revealed that tears them apart. The movie ends on Valentine’s Day, but I’ll leave it up to you to see how it finishes.
The bond formed by these former strangers and sudden confidants is at the heart of the story, and it’s where the movie ultimately shines the most. There are plenty of laughs and it definitely falls into the dark comedy genre. Collette is the standout performer but the rest of the main cast does a fine job as well and all four are exceptionally believable.
Another aspect that keeps the movie flowing nicely is screenwriter Jack Thorne’s decision to tell the story from different characters’ perspectives, shifting from Martin to Jess and so forth. That device really helped flesh out the characters and give the viewer a certain sense of attachment to their individual plights.
Altogether, this is a quality film that tackles depression and suicide in a manner that makes it both entertaining and thought-provoking.
For that reason, I’ll give it 8 mouse clicks out of 10.
A Long Way Down is now available to stream on Netflix.