Poorly lit, written, directed, acted, sound-mixed, edited and anything else you can think of, Matthew Chapman‘s The Ledge, starring Liv Tyler, Charlie Hunnam, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard, is the kind of baffling mistake that ends careers. The whole thing’s shot and lit in a particular way, by Bobby Bukowski, that recalls the soft-core porn that plays on cable at around 3 in the morning. But then those films don’t themselves seriously. This one does, to a stubborn extent.

Concerning an atheist hotel manager named Gavin (Hunnam) standing on the ledge of a building, the distraught cop trying to get him off (Howard) and the couple (Tyler and Wilson) that put him there, The Ledge is ultimately about nothing at all. Wilson’s Joe is a staunch Born-Again who’s convinced all homosexuals are going to hell. His wife Shauna doesn’t seem as convinced, though she goes along with it. Gavin and his GAY roommate live across the hall. See, because he’s gay and Joe doesn’t like gay people.

Joe and Gavin viciously debate religion and philosophy while Gavin smugly romances Shauna on the side. He tells all of this to Howard, who can’t be bothered because he just found out he’s sterile and his children are not his. Not that this subplot is explored at all. But it is there, so there’s that. Not that we believe either of these actors are on any kind of ledge anyway, as there’s barely any wind and the ADR only sometimes matches the lips its meant to.

Hunnam’s good at playing bad (Green Street Hooligans, Sons of Anarchy), but unwatchable here, trying to sound deep. It all falls apart completely during a scene in which Gavin and Shauna look up at the stars and Gavin preaches about the endless universe and blah and blah and blah.

Chapman’s a talented writer, producing a sharp, exciting adaptation of John Grisham’s Runaway Jury only a few years back. What happened here is inexplicable. Too many yes men around him? That can’t be the only reason for something like this, not even tackling the question of how his cardboard-cutout, two-bit philosophy-proclaiming script even got into the hands of talented thespians like Patrick Wilson, who does his best to save face as the religious fanatic, channeling a bit of his torn Mormon from HBO’s Angels in America mini-series. Unfortunately, not even he makes it out unscathed. Each scene is worse than the next, as though Chapman is testing the politeness of his disgruntled audience.

Tyler looks tired of acting in the film while she’s acting, as does Howard, who bumbles and mumbles his lines like they’re being whispered to him off screen.

Truly, in every way, an infamous, legendary experience that will haunt my soul for the rest of the festival.

Were planning on seeing this film? Don’t.

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