Sunday, July 10, 2011

Movie with Abe: The Ledge

The Ledge
Directed by Matthew Chapman
Released July 8, 2011

Hunnam and Tyler star in the film

Some movies are meant to be metaphors, and even if they’re effective, they may not also work literally. “The Ledge” is the story of a hotelier named Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) who finds himself forced to stand on top of a building and prepare to jump as mandated penance for his affair with a married woman, his neighbor Shana (Liv Tyler), by her religious husband Joe (Patrick Wilson). The construction that goes into such a story is highly complex, yet the outcome is doomed to be inferior to the premise, as characters and dialogue come second to a compelling concept.

Chapman at a press day for the film

There’s a great deal of background that went into the production of “The Ledge” that doesn’t show through in the final product. The film was written and directed by Matthew Chapman, the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. While Chapman does not let his lineage define him, he does write much, both in screenplay and book form, about evolutionism and particularly atheism. Discussing the film, he notes that atheists today are treated much like the LGBT community was half a century ago, and he would like to see more tolerance towards atheists, whom, he expresses, simply take any religion one step further, not believing in anyone’s god.

Tyler at a press day for the film

As a result of his strong beliefs, Chapman based the character of Gavin on himself. When proselytized to rather directly by Joe, Gavin reacts negatively, exerting just as much right to try to convert Joe to his own set of beliefs as Joe has to preach to him. When Shana comes to work for him at his hotel, Gavin bonds with her over the life she had before she found religion – and her husband – and that sense of freedom is what serves as the basis of their relationship. Their affair does seem to progress awfully quickly, which casts suspicion on its validity, especially for the carefully-watched wife.

Wilson at a press day for the film

Chapman contends that it was natural for this story to play itself out in a thriller format, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as he thinks it does. A side plotline involving Hollis (Terrence Howard), the cop assigned to talk Gavin off the ledge, is intriguing but also somewhat distracting. While the themes of the film may be engaging, the dialogue is much less impressive. Hunnam is much better in his element on “Sons of Anarchy,” and, for all their efforts, Wilson and Howard deserve much better roles like the ones they had in “Little Children” and “Crash,” respectively. Tyler’s performance is particularly inconsistent, decreasing even more from the credibility of the character as she alternately keeps herself isolated from human interaction and lets her guard down entirely without much reason or explanation for the switch. This could have been a contemplative, thought-provoking drama, but instead it’s a faulty execution of a creative concept.


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