MPI // 2011 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 19th, 2011
One life. One choice. One step.
The Ledge is a thinking man's movie that ruminates on romantic fidelity and religious piety. The hero of the film is an atheist who is tortured rather cruelly by a Christian who makes many assumptions about him and what his lack of belief means. It is a movie that applies the melodrama of a man standing on a ledge of a building deciding whether or not to jump, and uses that as a way to explore headier issues. If you're not too offended by a lack of faith it might just be up your alley. I imagine devout Christians may find the material offensive, but the rest of the world may consider it a refreshing change of pace to see the faithful and the pious get called out for being too ready to judge.
Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) plays a man who a police officer (Terrence Howard, Iron Man) finds on the edge of a building. The cop tries to talk him down, and the jumper tells him his story which we get to see in flashback. He fell in love with the wife (Liv Tyler, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) of a devout Christian (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen), and now he has a dastardly choice. He must kill himself to save the girl he loves, thus proving his faith that he will not be judged in the afterlife. It's to be a display of how little meaning life has, but it is also an act or heroism for the man to sacrifice himself for love. In the end we have to consider which is more important.
Sure, it's a rather contrived setup asking someone to take a swan dive to save his love. The idea of someone who does not believe in God being the moral center of the story is unique, but the premise of a man jumping to save the girl seems a bit worn. It is pure melodrama, but the film allows us to really study each character in an intelligent way thanks to the flashback narrative which is infinitely more interesting than the flashy framing device of a man on the ledge. I almost wish the film had settled for just letting people talk intelligently about the dilemmas of bringing an old faith to a modern world, but it seems we need some grand crisis to drive home the points. That part of the film fails a bit, because it seems illogical, especially in the conclusion. But the movie is saved by some very well thought out performances by the lead cast as well as whip smart dialogue. In the end the whole incident with the suicide attempt is secondary to the debate on what faithfulness and faith mean in the current context.
The movie itself is a small indie feature, and the Blu-ray feels like it lacks a bit of scope. I imagine viewers will be just fine with the DVD copy since this disc really sports a not-so-detailed transfer and a traditional audio offering. The 1.78:1/1080p high definition transfer is clear, but looks on par with a standard def DVD presentation. Detail is never amazing or too crisp, although it is fine. The sound is a five channel surround that is mastered in the traditional Dolby. It works well, but again does not seem like Blu-ray quality. Extras are only interviews with cast and crew, including actors Charlie Hunnam and Patrick Wilson, as well as writer/director Matthew Chapman. Two of the producers also chime in, and everybody seems to have quite a bit to say. The interviews are a nice bonus, but there is nothing else save for the theatrical trailer to supplement everything.
It's a silly setup, but the payoff arrives in a debate of religion and relationships with a decidedly pro-atheist slant. That is something we rarely see in films, and I suppose that is the hook for The Ledge. The Blu-ray is on par with a DVD release, so I imagine format choice is about as moot as debating whether the melodrama waters down the meditation. Overall the interesting stuff is bookended by the common plot devices, and to the film's credit it never feels too predictable. The Ledge is a piece where good actors get a chance to debate a topic that gets short shrift otherwise.
Guilty of not having faith and being proud of it.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R