Title: The Ledge
Studio/Distributor: eOne Films
Director: Matthew Chapman
Principle Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Patrick Wilson, Terrence Howard, Liv Tyler
Length: 101 minutes
Released: September 27, 2011
I rented The Ledge based entirely on its cast, without ever reading the plot synopsis on the back cover of the DVD. This is one of those magical times when the movie you pick without much thought turns out to be one that you can’t stop thinking about.
The Ledge is a truly compelling dramatic suspense thriller (filmed in Baton Rouge, LA) that explores love, pain, human relationships and the complexities of our religious and spiritual beliefs. It’s not a popcorn movie. It’s deep, provocative, and explores faith in a very original way by both attacking and condoning religious beliefs.
The movie opens with a man talking to a doctor about his state of fertility and then quickly cuts to a younger man (Charlie Hunnam of Queer As Folk & Sons of Anarchy) walking along the roof of a very tall building, out onto a ledge, and it appears that he is about to jump. We soon realize that he doesn’t want to jump but is being forced to and over the course of the next 95 minutes (which unfolds in real time), we find out why. How did he get there? If he doesn’t jump, someone else is going to die. Why? Who is it? An interesting premise…
At the same time, there’s a cop (Terrence Howard of The Brave One, Hustle & Flow and is also a musician) who is sent to the scene to negotiate and try to talk the guy out of jumping. We discover that he’s dealing with his own extraordinary personal situation and that both of the men are struggling with faith. In fact, all of the characters in this film are faced with circumstances that force them to look at faith; either their belief or disbelief. But this is not a preachy movie and you care about every person in the story.
Written and directed by Matthew Chapman, The Ledge took quite a few years to get made, but Charlie Hunnam knew he had to play Gavin Nichols from the time he read the script, four years before he started filming. After watching the performances given by Hunnam and Patrick Wilson, I have a renewed commitment to watch them in Sons of Anarchy and A Gifted Man.
The Ledge is a refreshing far cry from today’s Hollywood mainstream film fare. This is exceptional storytelling with a brilliantly written script that was brought to life by a cast of passionate and seriously gifted actors. The lead role of Gavin is flawlessly portrayed by the remarkably intelligent and charismatic Hunnam while his nemesis, Christian fundamentalist, Joe Harris, is also played to perfection by the astounding Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy, Little Children). Their common love interest, Shana, is created with complete honesty and emotional depth by the exquisite Liv Tyler (The Incredible Hulk, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) who can express more with just her face than most actresses of her generation. Christopher Gorham (Harper’s Island, Ugly Betty) lends grace to the supporting role of Gavin’s HIV positive, gay roommate, Chris. Finally, and no less important or impressive is the role of Detective Hollis Lucetti, played by the divine Terrence Howard (who co-executive produced the film), who so completely made me believe in his character’s emotions and predicament that I felt physically ill at the end of the movie. I was so moved, I felt as if I’d had the wind knocked out of me while tears trickled down my face.
It isn’t often that I’m so surprised and motivated to write a review about a movie rental, but I could not let this one go back to Classic Video without telling my network about how excellent I think it is. I watched Terrence Malick’s Oscar-nominated visual feast, The Tree of Life, the night before and although I admired the beauty of his filmmaking, I was left feeling somewhat confounded by the storyline. That isn’t the case with The Ledge. It’s a return to classic filmmaking in the sense that it doesn’t rely on any of the trappings of modern movies. There are no special effects, explosions, or super heroes trying to save an unrealistic world. The Ledge is simply a spellbinding story, impeccably conveyed by its director and actors. After watching the film and some of the interviews featured in the extras on the DVD, I wanted to watch it all over again and that does not happen very often.
The Ledge is sexy, romantic, suspenseful, philosophical and terrifying, and all of those components are seamlessly woven to create a really riveting narrative that should not be missed.