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REVIEW – The Ledge (2011)

April 16, 2012

FilmJuice have my review of Mathew Chapman’s jaw-droppingly awful The Ledge.

The fact that The Ledge got made at all offers an interesting insight into the difference between British and American attitudes towards religion. For example, despite having an official state church and being an ostensibly Christian nation, British society is now so profoundly secularised that atheism is now our cultural default. In other words, when you meet someone new you do not automatically assume that they are a Christian. Instead, you assume that they are either an atheist, an agnostic or sufficiently non-religious that you do not need to worry about offending Christian sensibilities in casual conversation. In fact, British society is now so profoundly secularised that many intelligent atheists are becoming annoyed at the shrill combativeness of the so-called ‘New Atheists’, thereby creating a market for books that embrace a less confrontational form of atheistic thought. America, on the other hand, is still a de facto Christian nation. This is evident from the fact that politicians tend to speak in explicitly Christian terms while even the more outlandish Christian beliefs are seen as serious moral positions. Simply stated, no British person would think to make a film like The Ledge because British public discourse has effectively banished the more outlandish Christian beliefs meaning that the confrontational attitude of the New Atheists comes across as bullying and uncouth.

Even more problematic is the fact that The Ledge is not the film it purports to be:

Despite ostensibly resembling a thriller, The Ledge is actually quite a talky and slow-paced film constructed around a series of set pieces in which characters deliver extended speeches for and against a belief in God. Given that Chapman places so much emphasis on these speeches it seems safe to assume that The Ledge is intended to be a film about ideas. Unfortunately, Chapman’s attempt to make a film about the clash between atheism and religion fails on two levels: Firstly, none of the ideas contained in The Ledge are particularly new or profound. In fact, the characters of Gavin and Joe are so unsympathetic and intellectually stilted that it rapidly becomes clear that Chapman has just as little insight into atheism as he does into religious fundamentalism. Instead of providing us with well-rounded characters and thought-provoking ideas, Chapman delivers banal caricatures filled with nothing more than hot air. Secondly, despite bloating the film’s running time and draining the thriller elements of all urgency and tension, the polemical aspects of the film are so poorly integrated into the plot that they seem more like a distraction than a primary focus. Look beyond the PR guff about ideas and The Ledge reveals itself to be little more than a squalid melodrama about a traditional love triangle.

Even more problematic is that, once you strip away all the God-talk, The Ledge is revealed to be a deeply misogynistic piece of filmmaking. At the heart of the film is a confrontation between two individuals who are so convinced of their moral and psychological superiority that they feel utterly entitled to the love of a beautiful woman. Indeed, while Joe dominates Shana by dragging her to a series of increasingly repressive churches, Gavin dominates her using mind games designed to make her fall in love with him. The Ledge is a profoundly misogynistic film because both forms of domination not only succeed but also go completely unchallenged by a director who refuses us all access to Shana’s thoughts and feelings. Denied both agency and meaningful self-expression, the character of Shana is nothing more than an empty vessel for the desires of selfish and hateful men. Time and again, Shana is given the opportunity to speak up for herself but instead Tyler simply stares impassively into the camera like a beautiful doll whose sole purpose in life is to be owned by an alpha male.

The Ledge is easily one of the worst films I have seen this year. Now that the scars have begun to heal on the viewing experience, I am almost tempted to say that the film is ‘so bad it’s good’ but then I think about the scene in which the atheist crows about getting Liv Tyler’s character to masturbate while thinking about him and I’m reminded that this is nothing more than a dull and misogynistic piece of pseudo-intellectual garbage.

5 Comments
  1. BiteBack2x permalink
    April 19, 2012 6:50 am

    @SFDiplomat —
    I love this review of the Film. Apparently, u only live, think & act on what makes u Happy at any given moment.
    I have Same opinion of your Film!! I can laugh as i watch the horror flick…swifts & turn the sharp blade in your ears. Bliss!
    Stip away $, & mandatory actions of decency are as Fake as Santa Claus, Easter Bunny…children are only victims of your Smile & words of fluffy mashmellows given to film watchers, unaware of your twisted perverse existance. All other intelligent observers, (don’t fool yourself!) they know what u are….
    Buy all the Happyness u want & can! You have little other resources to find happiness.
    You pay my bills, lmao….u can buy a clue too. You will always pay my bills!!! I love criticing films.

  2. BiteBack2x permalink
    April 19, 2012 9:48 am

    British… U think u are?
    & u think british is better than confrontational New Athiest, as you called the truth teller. The truth is Spoken from necessity.
    Persecution of Any Difference in Opinions, which you Callously, Condem Any other Beliefs by people & their Differences without Any thought….but one…You know that you are a Royal Ass who speaks too Quickly & without Real Brain Activity!! Lol.
    You are the “british christian & Royal Ass” who has & continues to Falsely compare the “FILM” you claim to Critic as a so called implied Thriller Film which fails due to actually quite “talky” (is that best word you could pull out your RoyalI Intellectually- Superior (?) huge Brain??) and slow-paced film. It Fails to contain your attention in it’s attempt to compare many Lengthy Godly & unGodly, but Contradicting, Lengthy Speeches. Also, you clam are None of the Ideas Contained in Film (which were the Main Focus of the Film.!!)
    You claim that the Ideas & lenghty speeches that were Projected weren’t even Particularly New or Profound.???
    You basicaly Completely Devalued, the so called “UnSympathetic & Intellectally Stilted” iDEAS of the “New Atheist” Actually & Realistically, Very Religios & Intelligently ABLE to Speak Their Own Opinions.

    Again, They were Battered by the ….Truely, UnSympathetic, British Self-Righteousness & Superiority thinking of OTHERS!!! The So called, New Atheists, in Film,who spoke repeadtedly of “God-Talk”,which was Clearly evidance of showing evidece of Christian Beliefs, but No Church & Pride & your own Self Righteousness by not listening to the Needs & knowing they needs to have Courage to Speak About the Exact Ideas You Criticized for Not doing or Speaking Previously about the Exactly the Same Ideas you again Judged them. & Criticized them for every word said, every movement & action Was Always Criticized as Wrong and made sure victim knew there worthlessness & utter ignorance, leep the weak sick & less te

    Intollerance for Capability to Speaking ….And Having the Same Priviledges Brutish Catholitics always Had.

    So, again your critic of characters was WRONG & You Were, Intollerant of weakness in them in begining. And Intollerant of Their New Ability to Speak Openly Oppositionally & Kknowing the Reality that They Would To Face in Doing So. Christians…Which were Be Flidiculed Either Way. iIDEASracterized In Film as American Reality. Well we all know that Speaking the Truth is considered uncouth & possibly bullying by those who only know the British christian’s Public Falacy. The uncouth, New Athiest as u call the subject of ur fury, Knows & Remembers the British Brutality on New America & the Reason they Fled England due to Different Religion, believing in the same God as British Monarchy. Britain Rulers Tortured & Tax any Intolerance to Have to Deal With Such Intelectually Stinted Ideas of worthless people that you’d rather stomp a boot on them…,.Since you value Them Personally & Much Less Value their Opinions & Ideas Wasted Your Time.!!! Time you as British Royalty could use for Constant Persicution having Drinks & Talking about How Intelectally Stinted They were & Boasting to one Another British Drunks Wasting in a Room Only Creating Conversations of Malioious Talk of the Un couth & Intelectually Stinted people you needed Them to be Less Valuable to Conversations & Society. Keeping them in Their Place, as Worthless & Useless for even your glance.. as an Ant or Bug Bothering YOUR Existance of British Royalty Their Catholic Religion Practices! all the Alcohol & Critical judgments of the Unclean, really the Poor, unwealthy or snyone they deem unworthy.. Talking Teash in lFancy Sitting room. Only the Best Money & British Royalty “Deserves”. Listening & Dring the Nights away talking Trash about other men Drunk & ignoring the also less valuable women not rven a thought about whether they existed, plenty of Stupid women kept stupid to better mans Ego.White British Royalty who does whatever & whenever they please with human objects to play with or enjoy beating inorder to keep their Position as Better than All & free to do as they liked without question! Women are Worthless but for momentary pleasure, bearing children, & servants. to Pathetic Btitish Men kept in Packs to Constantly tell Each other how Superior they are.

  3. April 20, 2012 8:17 pm

    What?

  4. tim permalink
    June 26, 2012 12:24 am

    Brits can dismiss “new atheism” from purely within a British context, but smug dismissal of it on grounds of it being “shrill and combativeness” while mentioning American culture in the same breath reveals a large degree of ignorance. all the “so-called” new atheists are doing is writing books and being invited to speak amd debate. It’s a relatively new forum for non-believers and most of the combativeness comes FROM the religious who are angry and fearful of a groundswell forming that could one day chip away at their political sway.

    That said, I agree the film is terrible, but to congratulate Britain for not having made it is completely absurd. And its only less Christian perhaps by comparison, but I doubt the author would invite comparisons to many neighbouring countries. You can’t simply dismiss COE by acknowledging it and miss the irony of even having to.

    In short, the author of the review reveals himself just as pompous and shrill as the “so-called” new atheists. He’s using a terrible film as a pedestal to show everyone how far above the debate he is.

  5. June 28, 2012 6:57 am

    I legitimately fail to see what is so controversial about this review.

    If you live in a country where religion completely dominates public life and all questions of morality pass through the ‘wisdom’ of the church then there is usually a point to the kind of aggressive argumentative posture adopted by ‘new atheism’. When nobody accepts that atheists exist, you need to force your way into the public eye and make it absolutely clear that not everybody is religious. I understand that and I have been there. I really have, I have been a member of the national secular society and I spent most of the late 90s arguing with Christians over the internet.

    HOWEVER, once atheism ceases to be a ‘big deal’ and atheism comes to form a part of public life and people stop looking to religion for moral guidance (as is now the case in the UK) those tactics start to become counter-productive as they make atheists look like jerks.

    The only point I tried to make was that different cultural contexts demand different argumentative strategies and, in the UK, the tactic of confrontation and denouncement simply does not work. You may find this terribly difficult to understand or terribly offensive but that is nonetheless the truth: When the majority of people declare themselves to be of no religious affiliation, banging a drum for atheism makes you look like a cock. This is why many British atheists roll their eyes when they encounter Richard Dawkins.

    Fuck’s sake…

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