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Toni Collette

A Long Way Down

Director: Pascal Chaumeil.

Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Tuppence Middleton, Rosamund Pike, Sam Neill.

Running time: 96mins

If you are unable to leave your disbelief at the door you will be too cynical for this film.

A Long Way Down is based on the book by Nick Hornby. 4 disparate and desperate characters all arrive with the intention of committing suicide on Topper’s Tower in London one cold New Year’s Eve. The whole embarrassment of jumping while others wait is enough for them to put their suicidal tendencies temporarily on hold. The story is told sequentially from the point of view of each character which might work differently in the novel but on film there was an seamless ebb and flow between each version of events. Each moment is filled with gallows humour and a kind of stalking mentality as each character assumes a responsibility for the rest of the group to try and make them keep to the pact of not making another attempt until at least Valentine’s Day.

Martin is a former TV presenter caught up in an underage sex scandal with a girl who looked to be in her 20s but was actually 15. After serving his time Martin wants to commit suicide because he feel humiliated. His ex wife and children are not in touch and his offers of work have dried up. At one point in the film he is asked whether he would rather have his children or the right kind of fame and he hesitates just long enough for us to know which one he would prefer. 

Maureen’s dilemma is slightly more sympathetic. A mouse-like creature totally overwhelmed by her life of taking care of her disabled son whom she feels will get the care he needs if she is no longer on the scene. Drudgery is exhausting and that despair is very evident in her every glance. 

Jess is a politician’s daughter and her attention seeking behaviour is easy to understand as her sister disappeared and is presumed dead. Her father is the object of Jess’s anger and although he says and does the right things it is obvious that there is a disconnect between them.

JJ  is an American who has given up on his dream of being in a band despite some earlier success. He gives a reason for his desire to end it all which doesn’t match events later on in the film but the reasons for his dissembling and reality perform a plot device later on.

The media do not come out well from the film and there are a few “Come on!” moments but if you can sit in the dark and just try to go with it, the rewards are worthwhile.

 

 

 

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Mental

Mental is an Australian film which doesn’t fit neatly into any particular category. There are feel good songs from The Sound of Music but it is not a musical. Teen angst is explored but it is not a teen movie. Sharks feature strongly but we never see one being hunted.

The colours are vibrant and one of the themes is familiar for those who have seen Toni Collette in P.J. Hogan’s earlier film Muriel’s Wedding in that the father is oblivious to the females in his life as he pursues a life in politics and has affairs not caring if everyone knows what he gets up to as he is one of the lads. Toni Collette descends on the Moochmoores taking up a job as a nanny and sets about repairing them all, while sticking to her own equally bizarre agenda.

The main theme though is an exploration of mental illness and whether those who are neurotypical are the crazy ones and that railing against life and loss is the only sane response.

I didn’t expect to stick with it as it had some terrible reviews, but it held me to the end.

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