The big space, open sky and rugged rocks of the Dolemites in northeastern Italy, one of the most stunning ranges in the Alps and a challenge even to experienced climbers which Kelly has chosen to defeat on the anniversary of the death of her boyfriend who first taught her the skills she will call upon to demonstrate her supremacy.
Staying with her friend Sophie, they think they have the campsite to themselves until the arrival of four American tourists who immediately spoil the serenity, Reynolds, Nathan, Taylor and the self-appointed leader of their squad, Joshua, belligerent and accustomed to getting what he wants, any man who defies him a fag and any woman who denies him a bitch.
The campfire gathering the night before the ascent turning to a game of one-upmanship, Kelly retreats to the cabin but Sophie remains for a while; pursued by Joshua she refuses his advances and he responds angrily, chasing her and backing her off a cliff. Sophie weakly calling for help, Joshua knows the evidence is against him and kills her, making his friends complicit in the murder, Kelly filming from a distance then running to the mountain to escape her pursuers.
Directed by Howard J Ford, The Ledge reimagines the bloody summer camp antics of Friday the 13th in the vertical shape of Cliffhanger, Kelly (Accident Man‘s Brittany Ashworth) making her ascent without equipment or provisions and keeping ahead of the pack thanks only to her experience and skill, guided and encouraged by the memory of her lessons from Luca, omnipresent like some Jedi Force Ghost.
“Climbing is like chess mixed with ballet,” he once told Kelly, yet with The Ledge presented as a tale of a woman’s survival against the odds and a group of hostile men it seems somewhat counterintuitive that credit for everything she accomplishes is handed vicariously to some dead white dude Joshua would no doubt label a hipster Eurofag.
Ashworth, Ben Lamb, Nathan Welsh, Louis Boyer and David Wayman presumably cast for their physical ability rather than acting skill, Ford’s direction of the action scenes is adequate, of the dramatic scenes less so, though with Tom Boyle’s script as thin as the paper it is printed on the lack of characterisation is an obstacle as insurmountable as the mountain they cling to, unintentionally hilarious in its portrayal of frustrated masculinity.
The Ledge is now available on Digital Download
Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 13th March