The Ledge

Heard about this movie a year or so ago but only got round to watching it yesterday. The Ledge is a 2011 movie directed by Matthew Chapman and starring Charlie Hunnam, Terrence Howard, Liv Tyler, Christopher Gorham and Patrick Wilson. The film premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The lives of a five people are focussed here with family, marriage, love, infidelity and religion takes focus in the dialogue driven script.

Detective Hollis Lucetti has just gotten the worst news he has ever had from a clinic. His doctor tells him based on tests that not only is he sterile and can no longer father children but that he has always been that way. Which means that the two small children he has had with his wife are not his. He confronts his wife at home before he goes to work and she confesses that she had a feeling that there was a problem. So she decided to go for an “arrangement” and had sex with Hollis’ younger brother to get pregnant and gave birth to two young kids. An enraged Hollis goes back to work when he is called to respond to an emergency; a man, Gavin Nichols is standing on a ledge as if to jump to his death. With a small crowd gathering below, it looks like a regular suicide attempt. Hollis reaches the small bunker room next to the ledge and leans throw the window to try and talk Gavin down. In a couple of minutes Hollis understands that Gavin is here not by his own choice and asks for the reason why.

Gavin then tells his story; he is an assistant manager of a big hotel in the city and recently met a woman in her 30s through one of the part time maids in the hotel. The woman, Shana, is also a music student and just so happens to be Gavin’s new neighbour in the apartment building they live in. Shana is hired and later her husband Joe invites both Gavin and his roommate Chris for dinner. At dinner Joe, a fundamentalist born-again Christian comes out as a rude bigoted man who mistakes Gavin & Chris for lovers, given that Chris is a open gay. Gavin, an atheist, despises Joe and leaves before they can eat and after saying thanks to Shana. Chris himself leaves in a couple of moments. Chris, who had lost everything and was helped by Gavin, tells him that he doesn’t think Shana, although religious, is like her husband. In the next few days Gavin flirts casually with Shana, intending to win her over and take her away from Joe, who he thinks does not deserve her. Although his intentions are casual and he treats it like a game in the beginning, when things becomes more serious he apologizes to her and they stay away from each other for a while. Joe invites Gavin over and apologizes for his rudeness as he thought Gavin was an atheist and gay too. The two then have a philosophical debate over religion, beliefs and ethics with neither convincing the other of their own point of view.

Meanwhile Chris is trying to get his relationship recognized by the religious organization where he and his boyfriend first met. Their relationship blossoms but their rabbi refuses to marry them as it is considered to be against god’s rules. Shana goes back to see Gavin and tells him her story – she became a drug addict at 18 and started selling her body to feed her addiction. One night her pimp sends her to a church to meet a customer, who beats her and leaves her lying naked at the church. There Joe, a former alcoholic who had amended his ways and started doing the “lord’s work”, helped her and later they got married, even though Joe dictates what Shana can & should do strictly as per his beliefs. As Gavin and Shana become closer, Shana decides she wants more than the  guilt and verbal abuse from her bully of her husband and they have sex when it’s just the two of them in the apartment. They meet whenever they can in secret and even arrange a meeting in one of the empty hotel rooms but Joe finds out about their rendezvous and is devastated. He then traps Shana and ties her up in the hotel room and calls Gavin out. After a discussion he tells Gavin to go to the top of the building opposite the hotel and stand on the ledge for over 3 hours before jumping off it right at 12 pm – or Joe will kill Shana with his gun. This is why Gavin is on the ledge.

Hollis tells Gavin his story as well, having made a connection with the about to be jumper. As it is almost noon the police try and find where Joe is holding Shana hostage but before they can find him Gavin, after telling Hollis to tell Shana that he loves her, says goodbye and jumps to his death. Hollis’ partner and the other cops manage to find Shana and arrest Joe, bringing him to the station. Shana goes back home after giving her statement and cries when she sees Chris. Hollis, takes Gavin’s advice and goes home to sit down with his wife and kids. As they have dinner his wife asks if she can say grace but Hollis, a Catholic, says not that day as the movie ends.

Although I was excited about the premise and the possibility of discussions between a fundamentalist and an atheist in a movie, something I had never seen before, the discussions are kinda cliched, stuff that you have heard in so many debates before but it’s worth watching once. The movie doesn’t really pan out but for what it is, it’s still worth a watch. 7 outta 10!

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