Sundance Review: The Ledge
The Ledge is a big misdirect. You think it’s going to be a standoff movie where a cop has to talk a jumper down. That’s really just the hook. It’s really a theological debate between an atheist and a homophobic zealot. I guess you can’t really lead with that.
Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) steps out onto the ledge of a roof. Hollis (Terrence Howard) is called to talk him down. Hollis just found out that he can’t donate sperm because he’s infertile. He has kids. So he’s got that going on. Gavin tells the story of what led him to the ledge.
Shana (Liv Tyler), Gavin’s new hotel employee also happens to be his neighbor. Gavin and his gay roommate Chris (Chris Gorham) invite the neighbors for dinner, and Shana’s husband Joe (Patrick Wilson) thinks they’re both gay and prays for God to help them correct their abominable choice. Now Gavin is not gay, but he still knows that’s wrong.
It’s interesting that the Sundance audience laughed at Joe’s comments. In a progressive audience, that sounds like humor because obviously we know his suggestions of homosexuality correcting programs are evil. I think most audiences will find it horrific. At least I hope they do.
Gavin engages in theological debates with Joe while trying to save Shana from such an oppressive man. I think it’s bold to make a movie so heavily centered on a hot button issue. I just don’t think it really explores it fully.
Joe takes the typical unwavering approach that the only salvation is being born again. Gavin’s all about evidence. I don’t think it’s either God exists or he doesn’t. Beliefs can enrich people’s lives and make them want to love. Joe’s beliefs make him hate. Where does that come from?
Narratively, I have a problem with the whole movie being a flashback. I know if you didn’t start on the ledge, it wouldn’t get juicy for about a half hour, but that’s the screenwriter’s problem to solve (same guy, writer/director Matthew Chapman.) This overdone crutch of the teaser opening informs way too much of the plot. Now nothing could happen that would prohibit Gavin from ending up on the ledge. It doesn’t take too much deduction to figure out which of the five characters is behind the plot and what Gavin’s choice will have to be.
It’s interesting that there are at least two films at Sundance with homophobic villains. That’s what Red State is about too, in a slasher movie format. I guess society has gotten to the point where artists want to tackle this head on. Everyone who protested Basic Instinct and Silence of the Lambs in the early ‘90s, here’s a movie where a raging heterosexual is the villain.