Monday, August 08, 2011
The Ledge…When Beliefs Kill
Gavin is a smooth talking hotel manager who begins to covet Shana, the lovely wife of his fundamentalist Christian neighbour, Joe. Of course, coincidence plays a huge role in the story because Shana walks into Gavin’s hotel to look for a part time job to pay for her college education. After she gets the job, Shana and her husband invite Gavin and his gay flat mate for dinner and it is at that point that we establish the religious beliefs of each party. The fanatically fundamentalist Joe has turned to Christianity, we will get to know later on, following a personal tragedy and after “finding God”, he proceeded to save Shana who was a drug addict and makes her his second wife.
One couldn’t blame Christian fundamentalists if they objected to the brilliant portrayal of Patrick Wilson’s Joe Harris. We all have a set of clichés linked to these new age churches and the film follows them to the letter.
People get attracted to these churches frequently after a huge change in their lives occurs, generally a tragic one, and they often become more judgmental and less opened to those who do not follow their faith. The desire to convert anybody they can get hold of, especially people in vulnerable situations, seems to be beyond their control and that too comes out in The Ledge when Joe who has just only met Gavin and his gay roommate calls homosexuality an abomination which the church can “sort out.” Matthew Chapman the director is balanced in his judgment of the atheist Gavin and the fundamentalist Joe and despite the fact that Gavin is of course warmer, funnier and more loving to Shana, Chapman never fails to acknowledge that Joe under his rigid and cold behaviour, is a man who deeply loves his wife and will stop at nothing to keep her. Shana herself describes him as a “good man” who devotes a large part of his time providing comfort to the ill.
In one sequence, Joe invites Gavin for dinner to openly discuss their views and quite naturally the discussion becomes heated as none of them want to back down and consider the viewpoint of the other.
On a technical basis, the film lacks polish and its style resembles a TV movie of the 80’s.
But on the whole, this is a film which could be watched in a group with the aim of generating discussion about religion, atheism and just one’s inability to listen to another person’s viewpoint, which is often the cause of so many conflicts.
The Ledge is far from being a masterpiece but at least it makes you think, a rare result with the films produced these days.