It’s hard to say where The Ledge misses its opportunity, a film that probably should have been contained to a rooftop. Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) is ready to leap to his death, sidetracked by a mourning detective, Hollis (Terrance Howard). The views are tense, the chosen building not some grand, overdone spectacle, just a locale with believability. Ledge plays smartly with its indie finances, keeping itself contained for the needs of the narrative.
The film isn’t wrong for leaving the ledge, but the tension driven from that rooftop has more riding on it than the audience knows, at least until those closing moments. Gavin is adamant someone is going to die unless he jumps at noon, the who/what/why of the scenario closed until the backstory fills in gaps.
Those gaps are needed, Ledge requiring a sophisticated script to detail this weaving complex narrative otherwise, a war of will and words between a deeply fundamentalist Christian and atheist in Gavin. Joe (Patrick Wilson) seems overly controlling of his wife, Gavin stepping in as what he sees as a rescue for Shana (Liv Tyler). That leads to an affair, romance, and inter-apartmental (?) conflict.
Maybe it’s where they blend, Ledge determined to cram both timelines together, each trip back involving as a one-sided affair. One doesn’t seem to need the other, those sidetracks as Gavin is invited by Joe for a philosophical debate tiresome while waiting for the rooftop to return, intriguing without.
Ledge will play a single side, Joe not a character built upon a foundation of subtlety. A dinner scene happens to ignite a flare-up based around gays and Christianity, the scene otherwise worthless in its purpose. It feels like a reality show, one of those where they force opposing belief systems to live with one another because it makes for prime time delights. Capable director Matthew Chapman doesn’t play between the lines, and maybe that is The Ledge’s grand downfall, a total misrepresentation of its potential.
IFC doles out an AVC encode for this digitally sourced feature, a typically crisp, natural presentation that goes beyond the usual filtered, flat appearance. Part of that seems to be unwillingness to toy with the material, colors left to their own devices without extensive tinkering aside from a handful of nighttime interiors. Outdoors or even within the apartment complex, flesh tones stick with their natural hues, exteriors properly saturated with clear restraint.
Contrast falls on the other side of the intermediate phase though, ramping up for a blistering, hot, and blooming appearance. Whites, whether that refers to clothing or light sources, will always move from their natural confines, a means to soften up or intensify certain confrontations; it depends entirely on tone. Most importantly though, this has a marginal effect on the fine detail, those exteriors under mostly natural light, vivid in their definition.
That is certainly the strong suit here, detail that is, close-ups extraordinary in their clarity and firmness. Nothing looks sharpened, resolved facial detail surviving at its peak potential. Moving back, things don’t stick to the plan with quite the same consistency, the mid-range either carrying a flatness that reveals the digital roots or a hint of the detail that came before.
Where the digital holds are the black levels, a rarity especially for a smaller scale indie film lacking in the best equipment. Depth is widely available and carrying out its duty day or night. Intimate scenes don’t lose their luster to break the moment, and distractions with regards to lacking dimensionality are zero. Ledge is a refreshingly pure piece of source material in an era of lackluster digital and horrid color schemes.
You’ll find little to diagnose as “wrong” within this DTS-HD mix, mostly because there’s so little to listen for. The rooftop locale has the ambiance going for it, the height generating some whipping winds that will carry through the stereos and surrounds. Dialogue will find itself pleasingly stern in the center, fidelity occasionally giving out to a lesser recording quality.
Ledge barely even has a score, most of the music some mild guitar strumming which never attempts to rise past its emotional lows. No one will ask it to either. It perfectly suits the melancholy mood.
Some street level ambiance will pick things up, some cars traveling to the sides at 47:00 hard to miss, but it’s overall a bit downtrodden to suit the material. It sticks to its own audio palette without trying to beef itself up with unnecessary mixing.
Extras contain a handful of trailers and then a series of five interviews. There’s a little over an hour of content as actors Charlie Hunnam & Patrick Wilson, director Matthew Chapman, and producers Mark Damon & Michael Mailer all offer their thoughts. That said, the unnamed guy who is actually doing the interviewing is as dry as they come.