Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Ledge (DVD Review)

DVD Review of The Ledge, a thriller starring Charlie Hunman, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard exploring faith and belief through characters with complicated pasts.

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Image Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: Matthew Chapman (Heart of Midnight, Strangers Kiss)
Cast: Charlie Hunman, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, Terrence Howard
USA, 2011

Reason to see: Like the cast and tension filled trailer caught me

I went into seeing The Ledge on the weight of the trailer, which looks pretty compelling and had some familiar faces of actors I enjoy - in particular Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow). It has tension thrill ride written all over it, and I enjoy a good thriller especially when there could be a mystery and debate involved. Little did I know that the weight behind the struggle here is all wrapped up with a philosophical religious bow. Wow. That was a shocker.

In all honesty, when I think about it retrospectively I don't mind that the religious themes and philosophical arguments weren't glaringly evident from the get go as if I had known I wouldn't have given the film a chance and then I would have missed out on what it has to offer. I was very impressed with Charlie Hunnam Who plays the lead character Gavin, a charismatic hotel worker who is, well, he doesn't actually really seem to be doing much of anything with his life other than living it which makes it even more of a mystery when he ends up on The Ledge. The cast of characters is filled out with Gavin's gay roommate Chris (Christopher Gorham of 'Covert Affairs'), religious couple next door Joe & Shana (Patrick Wilson & Liv Tyler) and detective Hollis (Terrance Howard) all of which have their own challenges and struggles to go through as well. I actually really liked the story behind Terrance Howard's character and wished they'd focus on it a bit more over Liv Tyler who was important to the central story but had the least believable back story that literally had me dumbfounded. I'm not quite sure what they were thinking about her character, it was very broad stroked and not quite believable but I think she carried it off as best she could. The acting here is actually quite solid and although I've not seen Charlie Hunnam since 'Queen as Folk' UK (but people I'm sure also know him from 'Sons of Anarchy'), I'll certainly keep an eye out to what he does in the future as there are some strong acting chops there. A little rough with the weight of whole story on him, but it's in there.

Bringing thriller and religion together is pretty gutsy as I don't know many folks that play in those two sandboxes, which made me wonder who the film is targeted for. On the religious side, I don't think it would play well and then for the non-believers I wonder if they would give the arguments a chance. It's a tough call. I know I found that it kept me engaged not only during watching but it's stayed on my mind ever since. It's certainly on that has many different offerings from being enjoyable as a straight-up thriller to diving in really deep with the philosophical questions, to enjoying the unique combination of both. Overall, The Ledge wasvery engaging and certainly a story that will stick with you.

DVD Extras:
  • Interviews: with actor Charlie Hunnam (26 minutes) * on what drew him to the project, selectiveness of roles, the state of the film industry, the draw to acting, on religious beliefs, on his characters beliefs and love, the genre(s) of the film, the title and the effect of being on the ledge, working together with the other actors & the director; producer Mark Damon (28 minutes) on going from being an actor to a producer, on the role and responsibilities of being a producer, on traits required to get the picture got made, on the appeal of the film to the audience and touch on his film career and the drive it takes to keep going; writer/director Matthew Chapman (19 minutes) on restarting his career with this film, the inspiration behind the film, the idea about the story, the appeal of the film and the cross genre appeal, on working with the cast & crew; producer Michael Mailer (12 minutes) * on the influence of his father, on the challenge of finding the right audience of the film, the challenging ideas in the film, the cast, on belief systems and the appeal to both believers and non-believers; actor Patrick Wilson (18 minutes) on the decision to become an actor, what drew him to the role, on the research done for the role, the experience of acting, on working with the actors and on the different appeals of the film.
  • All the interviews are lengthy and the questions are often quiet and even though you can tell the interviewers loved the film they questions aren't always quite diplomatic but they do go pretty deep not only into the film but also their careers as a whole. It would have nice to have them a little tighter and edited down a bit especially as the questions are hard to hear and some (noted with *) have competing sounds in the background, but even so the answers are always clear.
The Ledge is available on DVD as of September 27, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
It really stuck with me
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to open minded thriller fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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