Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Long Way Down: Does Pierce Brosnan play Martin by the book?

Martin (Pierce Brosnan) leads Maureen (Toni Collette), JJ (Aaron Paul) and Jesse (Imogene Poots) across a bridge in a scene from A Long Way Down. 

I really can't get Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, the story of "four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line" out of my head. In my last Long Way Down post I took a look at JJ; the musician who will be played by Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul in the upcoming screen adaptation. While JJ was the character that probably delivered the biggest bang for my emotional investment (plus he's a reader, irresistible) it's Martin's world-weary, privileged but accurate and honest point of view that grounds us.

We know Martin is a cynical, immoral man with a well-earned negative view of himself; we know he had sex with a 15 year old and went to prison for rape; he tells us so right from the get go.  Martin opens the novel with a speech I shared in my first A Long Way Down post; I'll include again here in 'Part Twoish' of my take on the book.  

Martin begins 
"Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block? Of course I can explain why I wanted to jump off a tower block. I'm not a bloody idiot.

Pierce Brosnan sporting a faux black eye for the filming of A Long Way Down


And he's not;  indeed Hornby uses Martin's character - the host ex-host of a morning television show - as our reporter and commentator. As despicable as his actions were, it's probably through his jaded eyes that we most us would filter the other characters in the foursome. t's almost as if we're watching the story of Martin and friends play out on the news, Martin acting as an 'embed' translating what's happening to us, the reader/viewer.

Depressing and tawdry though it may be, Martin knows how the world works and what expectations come with the deal. He KNOWS it is not at all okay for a man his age to sleep with a 15 year old.  Period.  No excuse. In fact it's the lack of excuse that leaves him suicidal. In his view, what else can he do? In an odd way it's his lack of self-forgiveness that helps us cut him some slack. Enough! 

Now if you loved this book - as I did - the thought of the sixty year old Pierce Brosnan taking on the role of Martin is probably taking you back a bit. It did me. In Hornby's novel Martin reads as forty-something; still horrible but not sixty. I adore - I do! - Brosnan but even the idea of James Bond with a 15 year old is too creepy for words - and even creepier onscreen. So what will they do? Do you think they'll play it as written in Hornby's moving book? Or will
they Hollywood-ize it, re-shaping Martin's central crime so that his character does something extremely loathsome but somehow more palatable to his fans? 




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