The experienced cop Hollis is having a really really bad day. First he find out that he's sterile - so his two kids can't possibly be his own. And then this guy Gavin... standing on a ledge, preparing himself to jump to his death. It seems like Gavin doesn't really want to die, but believe that someone else will die if he doesn't.
The whole thing is quickly revealed to be about a Love Triangle
. Two men, one woman, and it seems likely that at least one
of the three is insane. Gavin and Joe are fighting over Shana
. Gavin is her employer and also an Atheist, Joe is her husband and also an Evangelical Christian. But is their conflict really about the woman, and is it really about their clashing beliefs?
The story is mostly a psychological drama with heavy focus on philosophy. Especially the interaction between world-view and self-image. The film also has an obvious thriller element, although this is a far smaller part of the story than the second scene would have the audience believe.
Because of its themes, the film was heavily promoted as one of the first in which the hero is an atheist which doesn't fit with the existing preconceptions of atheists in fiction
. The film's box office performance was lukewarm and its reception has been mixed to negative (11% on Rotten Tomatoes
Has examples of:
- Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Taken to a very deadly level as Gavin is about to "die for his beliefs".
- Affably Evil: Joe, other than being a fundamentalist Christian and some Condescending Compassion, he is shown as being a very nice, affable and easy-going fellow... except when he loses his patience when debating religion.
- Author Tract: Pre-release marketing touted this film as atheist-friendly, since it was going to be one of the few movies to have an openly atheist hero that averted the Hollywood Atheist trope; also the director, Matthew Chapman, is the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin.
- Black and White Insanity: Living in his own personal world of strictly black and white morality, Joe has a life that is very good but also very fragile. When reality doesn't conform to his over-simplified world-view, everything crumbles.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Shana explains that the reason she fell in love with Joe was because he took care of her and saved her from her lifestyle of drugs and prostitution to pay for it when nobody else would.
- Bondage Is Bad: One of the problems in the marriage between Joe and Shana is his desire to dominate her sexually. This desire for dominance is definitely not discussed in terms of Safe, Sane and Consensual. Once he kidnaps his wife, his first priority is to get her Bound and Gagged. Naked, of course. The camera angles are very modest about this: The fetish fuel is for Joe only, not for the audience.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Joe, he is the fundamentalist Christian in a pro-atheist film.
- Crapsack World: Joe argues that the world is a Crapsack world, but his argument is quite egocentric. It's all about him having made bad choices in his life and lived a shitty life until he found Christ.
- Death Is Cheap: Discussed. Joe claim to be brave on the basis that he will go to heaven when he dies, so that death doesn't really cost him anything. Gavin doesn't seem to think that this is really brave at all.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Gavin does not take kindly to Joe worrying about Gavin living an empty life without God and ending up in hell.
- Downer Beginning: Hollis finding out that he is sterile, that he is not the real father of his children, and that he must now try to talk Gavin out of suicide.
- Egocentrically Religious: With Shana, it's merely that the nature of the universe conforms to her personal emotional needs. Joe takes things several steps further. The universe he live in revolves around himself and his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Entitled to Have You: Gavin sees himself as Shana's appointed savior from an oppressive life.
- The Fundamentalist: Gavin doesn't see Joe as having much personality beyond this trope. Shana does, however.
- God Is Evil: Discussed by Gavin.
- The Hero Dies
- Hollywood Atheist: Averted with Gavin, as mentioned above.
- Homosocial Heterosexuality: It's really all about Gavin and Joe.
- How We Got Here: The movie starts with Gavin climbing over the ledge and Hollis trying to convince him to step down, Gavin then starts telling to Hollis the story of the love triangle.
- Lover's Ledge: Twisted in a very cruel way. The choice of place for Gavin's upcoming death is no accident.
- Love Triangle: Gavin and Joe fighting over Shana.
- Manipulative Bastard: Gavin feels that he has been this.
- Mistaken for Gay: Gavin, when Joe assumes that he is in a gay relationship with his roommate.
- Out Grown Such Silly Superstitions: Gavin has, and tries to convince Shana of doing the same.
- Prayer of Malice: This is how Gavin interprets Joe's prayer for gay people. And that's how their conflict gets started: Joe mistakes Gavin for Gay, and Gavin reasserts his identity as a non-homophobic heterosexual by deciding that Joe's wife is too good for Joe.
- Poor Communication Kills: Lampshaded by Hollis: If Gavin had told him about the reason he was on the ledge from the beginning, he could have been able to mobilize his forces and stop Joe.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog
- Take That: The opening shot shows a cross with a polluting oil refinery in the background... gee I wonder what could that possibly mean?
- The Presents Were Never From Santa: Gavin argues that Shana's inner strengths and weaknesses comes from herself, not from God or the Devil.
- Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: In his past, Joe was led into the temptation of self-destructive and abusive sexual behaviour.
- White Knighting: Gavin rationalizes his actions and attempts to seduce Shana as saving her from an oppressive life.