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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
A Long Way Down  (2014)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
1.5 Stars
(Release Date: September 9, 2014) – Based on Nick Hornby's same-titled 2005 novel, "A Long Way Down" is unctuous and cloying, an irresponsible look at four suicidal people whose problems appear to be nothing a good laugh can't solve. Shamed former daytime talk show host Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan), harried mother of a special needs son Maureen (Toni Collette), politician's daughter Jess (Imogen Poots), and terminal brain cancer patient JJ (Aaron Paul) meet on the rooftop of London's Toppers House on New Year's Eve. Strangers who were all planning to jump, they instead make a pact to be each other's support system and stick it out through Valentine's Day. Wacky misadventures (and at least one unanticipated heartbreak) ensue.

In adapting Hornby's book, director Pascal Chaumeil and screenwriter Jack Thorne are mostly accurate, separating the narrative into four parts with each one told from the point of view of a different protagonist. The particulars of the script ring so false, though, that not even the dignified performances of its cast—most notably Toni Collette (2014's "Tammy") and Imogen Poots (2014's "Need for Speed")—can save it. There is nothing wrong with a bittersweet comedy that finds humor in sadness and misery, but "A Long Way Down" doesn't bother to explore its characters on any substantial level and comes close to offending in how flippant the whole thing is to the subject of suicide. Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ are deeply troubled and possibly clinically depressed, but try telling that to filmmakers more concerned with witty retorts than exploring who this quartet are as people.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"A Long Way Down" exhibits a functionally solid but unexciting 1080p transfer. The digital photography is softer than what one expects from a high-profile feature film released in 2014, but it does look relatively accurate to what was intended. Blacks are strong and technical issues—banding, moiré, crush—are minimal. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio called so little attention to itself that it might as well have been a 2.0 track. This isn't necessary a bad thing. The picture is, after all, focused on dialogue over explosive action, and as such dialogue was always clear and music pleasantly mixed (if front-heavy).

Blu-ray Features
  • Deleted Scenes (8:07, HD)
  • Outtakes (7:11, HD)
  • "Making of A Long Way Down: Jumping in with the Cast & Crew" Featurette (8:26, HD)
  • "On Toppers Tower: A Behind the Scenes View" Featurette (1:36, HD)
  • "Working with the Director" Featurette (2:15, HD)
  • "Adapting the Story" Featurette (3:27, HD)
  • "AXS TV: A Look at A Long Way Down" Featurette (2:10, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:13, HD)
Bottom Line
For a movie with such a promising pedigree, it is understandable upon viewing the unconvincing finished product why it received such a small theatrical opening. Magnolia Pictures' Blu-ray release of "A Long Way Down" will be a worthwhile investment for fans of the film. Those who haven't seen it should be more cautious and are advised to rent before adding to their home collection.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman