Patrick Wilson in "The Ledge." (Sundance Film Festival )
At 10:30 one morning, hotel manager Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) steps out on to the ledge of a tall building facing an old church with a clock on its tower. He plans to jump before noon. Hollis (Terrence Howard), a policeman trained to deal with such situations, quickly discerns that Gavin is being forced to commit suicide. Drawing out Gavin triggers a series of flashbacks.
Such is the promising premise of writer-director Matthew Chapman's "The Ledge," a film that's ultimately sabotaged by its own heavy-handed screenplay.
Eventually we learn that Gavin lives in an apartment house across the hall from Shana (Liv Tyler) and her husband, Joe (Patrick Wilson). Shana applies for work at a hotel, not knowing Gavin is the manager, and is hired as a maid. Soon Shana and Joe invite Gavin and his gay roommate (Christopher Gorham) for dinner. Wrongly assuming they are lovers, Joe, a religious fundamentalist, offers up a prayer for their salvation. Gavin decides to liberate Shana from her fanatic husband and soon seduces her.
Here are the ingredients for a neo-noir, but Chapman, a preachy and verbose writer, piles on so much woe in his characters' back stories as to be risible.
Despite a capable cast and attractive Baton Rouge, La., locales photographed by Bobby Bukowski, "The Ledge" suffers from a seriously flawed script that's just too implausible to be taken seriously.
"The Ledge." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.