I have a general rule. If a movie is coming to On Demand before or shortly after its theatrical release, it isn't worth watching. If the studio isn't willing to promote or release what appears to be a mainstream film to a large audience, then I'll assume it isn't fit for the big screen. Thankfully, I make exceptions to this rule on occasion - and in the case of The Ledge, the exception pays off.
The Ledge stars Charlie Hunnam as Gavin, a devout atheist who finds himself drawn to the sweet and attractive Shauna (Liv Tyler). Unfortunately, Shauna is married to Joe (Patrick Wilson), a fundamentalist Christian who is unwilling to compromise on issues of faith. After Gavin and Shauna begin an affair, however, Joe presents Gavin with a disturbing choice: jump off a ledge to sacrifice himself, or let Shauna die.
It's very similar to a situation I faced at the grocery store last week: name brand or store brand?
Currently playing On Demand and opening in select theaters in July, The Ledge is an alluring and emotional romantic thriller. The movie is written and directed by Matthew Chapman, who wrote Runaway Jury but hasn't directed a movie 1988's Heart of Midnight. It isn't groundbreaking, but in its simplicity manages to present several complex and intriguing - but flawed - characters, all driven desperately by their own egotistical beliefs.
Hunnam and Tyler are terrific in their respective roles and develop great chemistry with one another. In just a few brief and innocent exchanges, Hunnam, Tyler and Chapman manage to evoke great tension and sexual energy between the pair; the affair doesn't seem forced for the sake of plot.
Wilson plays a fine "villain", creepy in his own suburban, misguided way. His character isn't as fleshed out as the other two leads, but is complex nonetheless. He isn't as evil as he is corrupted by his own beliefs; he's so right and moral that he has unknowingly become the antithesis of what he aspires to be.
Terrence Howard, who plays the detective who attempts to talk Hunnam off the ledge in a not-so-splattery way, also does a good job, though Chapman's attempt to develop a back story for him falls flat; not only does his family issues not bear any importance on the story, but it also causes him to do unbelievable things. Would a cop assigned to save a suicidal man answer his cell phone mid-discussion to argue with his wife?
The Ledge has its small shortcomings, but is still an engaging and moving film. Featuring strong performances and an emotional screenplay, The Ledge is a surprisingly good movie that deserves a better release pattern then it's receiving. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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