1/18/2016

A Long Way Down: The Book vs. The Movie


A Long Way Down: Book vs. Movie
Last night I had the pleasure of watching Pascal Chaumeil's film adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel, A Long Way Down. I want to start by saying that I very much enjoyed the book, and I thought Hornby's use of multiple perspectives worked wonderfully. I remember being really impressed by his writing style while reading it, thinking to myself, "Wow, I wish I could write like this." Handling multiple perspectives is very difficult, and to make it work in a coherent and interesting narrative is even more difficult. I think Hornby pulled it off beautifully, and I would recommend the A Long Way Down book to anyone.

The film version of A Long Way Down is still good, but it doesn't have quite the same feel as the novel. What I've noticed mostly about Hollywood adaptations of books is that the movie version usually seems like a watered-down version of the same story. Such was the case with this movie, especially because the multiple perspectives wasn't exactly captured as well as it could have been. Yes, it was there, but we didn't get the same amount of backstory or internal thoughts of each character that made Hornby's A Long Way Down so great.

The film's plot was mostly faithful to the novel's, right up until the last twenty minutes or so. I understand why they changed it, because the book has more characters and some of the scenes - i.e. the meeting in the Starbucks basement, simply wouldn't have worked for the film. Also, I think having a man jump off the tower block right in front of them at their Valentine's Day meeting would have been a bit too depressing, so I think that's why they had JJ (Aaron Paul) standing on the edge instead. If they really wanted to capture an accurate portrayal of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, they would've had to make a three hour movie, and nobody would've watched it.

I did like the casting choices, as the actors chosen fit the roles fairly well. It was strange to see Pierce Brosnan as Martin Sharp considering he's James Bond, but he did a great job. Aaron Paul is hard to look at as anything other than Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman, but that may have helped his case in A Long Way Down because they didn't take much time to give JJ's backstory. Toni Colette played the timid and shy Maureen well, which I think would be a tough role, as Maureen's character is so subtle, but I think Colette was able to capture that. Finally there was Imogen Poots as Jess. Her character was probably the most developed, as I feel that a large portion of the film was devoted to her perspective.

I'm not sure how I felt about Jess and JJ ending up together, and that certainly did not happen in the book. Also, Martin getting back together with his wife was such a cop-out. They didn't even hint at Martin's relationship with his co-host, Penny, which I thought was great in the book. That's another thing about Hollywood movies: they always have to turn everything into a love story with a happy ending.

Overall, I would recommend watching A Long Way Down, but of course I recommend the book even more.

Movie: 7/10
Book: 9/10

Up next: Donald Trump: How To Make America Great Again (Book Review)

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