Ready for atheistic proselytization? It may be coming to a theater near you.
"The Ledge," a new, independently-produced thriller is set to open today in New York and Los Angeles. The film, written and directed by Matthew Chapman, an atheist who hopes to inspire non-believing audiences, will feature what CNN calls an "openly atheist hero." Watch the trailer, below:
According to Chapman, this is the first time Hollywood has offered audiences a non-believing protagonist. The filmmaker, on a stated mission to re-brand atheism, hopes that the movie will help clear up common misconceptions about people who choose not to embrace a higher power. CNN has more:
It’s a story of religion, love and revenge that pits a conservative Christian husband against an atheist who has seduced the religious man’s Christian wife.
Chapman, the great-great grandson of the famed Charles Darwin, says that he hopes it’s a "Brokeback Mountain" moment for people who do not believe in a higher power. When it comes to public relations, he believes atheists should take a page from the gay and lesbian handbook. He says:
"The gay movement has a body of work appealing to the emotions of the body it addresses. Atheists fail at this."
The film is receiving mixed reviews. It was nominated for best drama at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and its high-powered Hollywood stars may help attract an audience -- among them: Terrence Howard, Liv Tyler, Charlie Hunnam and Patrick Wilson. The New York Post, however, wasn't too keen on the film:
A hotel manager climbs up onto "The Ledge" atop a high building, but unlike its talky hero, the credibility of this preposterous drama immediately plunges into the abyss.
The manager (an irritating Charlie Hunnam, chewing over his American accent as though he has a mouthful of taffy) has been told to stay on the ledge for a couple of hours -- long enough to tell his story to a friendly cop (Terrence Howard) who sticks his head through a nearby window. At high noon, the manager must jump off, but he seems awfully chipper about his situation as he chats about how -- cue movie-length flashback -- he seduced a cleaning lady (Liv Tyler) married to one of those off-the-rack movie villains: a fundamentalist Christian weenie (Patrick Wilson) who turns out not to be thrilled that his wife is cheating.
The Los Angeles Times shares a negative view of the film:
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.
Below, watch a clip in which two of the main characters battle over God, Heaven and salvation:
Here's the real question: Will America -- a pre-dominantly faith-filled nation -- turn out to see (let alone rent) a movie like this? After all, the director's main goal is to further embed atheism into society.
The vast majority of Americans believe in God, but the atheist minority -- while small -- has been experiencing a bit of a growth spurt. The next few weeks should be interesting as ticket sales will begin to paint a picture of rousing success -- or failure.