'A Long Way Down' - Movie Review

Nick Hornby's novels have been popular for making movies: Fever Pitch (twice - I've seen the American one, I want to see the British one), High Fidelity (which I adore), and About a Boy (never loved it as much as the critics). So this is the most recent one (the title has remained the same in the transition from page to film), about four people who meet on the roof of a tall building on New Years Eve, all there with the intention of jumping. Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) is the first to arrive, and his reasons are very clear: former morning TV show host who slept with a young woman who turned out to be 15. Lost his job and his wife, went to jail. He's out, but can't get a job. Maureen (Toni Collette) is next, then Jess (Imogen Poots) - who makes a sprint for it, triggering the adult instincts of Martin and Maureen, and finally J.J. (Aaron Paul). They talk, they leave without jumping, they talk more, they make a pact to not commit suicide until Valentine's Day.

The movie got lousy reviews (currently 22% at Rotten Tomatoes), and I understand why - although I'm not sure I can fully articulate it. My suspicion is that trying to compress the recovery of four people into an hour and a half doesn't work well. In a book, you have the time to examine each person's story in detail: here it has to be done in very broad strokes because you have less than 20 minutes per person. The problem isn't the actors: they're all quite good. Perhaps it's that some of it is decidedly black humour and yet the punchline is, well, "heart-warming." And, truth be told, I knew what I was getting into and I quite enjoyed it as a badly-reviewed-suicide-attempt-and-recovery-story. So maybe it'll work for you if you're in the right frame of mind.