Save Me (I) (2007)
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Oftentimes Christians are criticized for being bigoted and judgmental, not without some merit, but these labels do not fairly describe all Christians. This movie does not make use of these stereotypes; instead, it shows that even Christians are people struggling with their own identity.
Judith Light's (Gayle) performance is outstanding, and although you may not agree with her beliefs, you can understand and respect her perspective. From her past mistakes, revealed in the movie, she has learned that love and acceptance are better than the unhealthy, sometimes destructive, consequences that come from denial and rejection. Gayle's husband, Ted, played by Stephen Lang, portrays a subtle contrast to her more rigid beliefs, and his 'coach vs. referee' approach serves as a fine example.
Despite how some people view it, Ted and Gayle's ministry, Genesis House, does not force or seek to brainwash the residents. The residents all are adults who have chosen to be there, for whatever reason. One memorable scene in this movie is when Gayle tells Mark, "I don't change people. I try to show them how to get closer to Jesus Christ, and let them make their own way."
The real heroes in this story, however, are the "boys," with excellent performances given by Robert Gant (Scott), Chad Allen (Mark), and Robert Baker (Lester). Their individual journeys are a mixture of pain, love, rejection, and acceptance.
This movie is not anti/pro gay, nor is it anti/pro Christian. It is merely pro love and pro people. I know this description sounds corny and trite, but for those who have seen this movie, perhaps you can agree.
One thing I truly like about this movie is that it is NOT afraid to cross the boundaries of Religion and one of the biggest taboos in society. Stereotype Christians constantly seem to be at war here with society about what gets you into hell and what gets you into heaven, and that if you do not live by God's Word, (The Bible) that you will be damned for all Eternity. This movie isn't afraid to cross that line and say, "You know what?! This isn't correct." And, "What if...?". It's not afraid to question the rules, the rules that were always MEANT to be followed with no questions asked. This movie DOES ASK those questions, resulting in an amazing final outcome.
I myself as a Christian gay male have been asking myself these questions for YEARS, not ever getting a straight answer. I was either shunned, called a hypocrite, or immediately hit in the face with Bible quotes I was already well aware of; pointless. If you have an open mind, or are/have been in a similar situation, or just want to see a DAMNED good movie, then this one is definitely worth sitting down and watching.
The setting of the movie and the approach to the characters is brilliant. Most movies that show non-urban, non-coastal US cities fall into a trap of playing the setting and the characters for laughs, or at least exaggerating the local color for effect (witness Coen Brothers movies, for example). This movie didn't fall into the self-conscious exaggeration, which inevitably keeps the audience at a distance. Instead, it shows most things in a very human level--you're not looking down on, or sideways at, or with an outsider's view of the people or situation. This is the water you're swimming in. You're there to witness what is going on without the self-conscious, ironic and "precious" aspects that many directors are afraid to leave behind. This view of the rural West feels very genuine (and I know because I've lived there before).
The acting by Judith Light and Stephen Lang is phenomenal and that by Chad Allen and Robert Gant is very good. The large cast of supporting actors is largely very good, too. It becomes even more amazing that they pulled this off when the movie makers undoubtedly were working on a shoe-string budget. The performances are better than many big budget movies. The script allows for complex characters and the acting is nuanced.
The production values are similarly good for the small budget: beautiful filming, a good musical score and songs that worked just right for the tone.
There is a sense of space and stillness that allows things to breathe and it's a little bit "Zen" once the movie gets going. I didn't find the first few scenes of the movie fit in particularly well with the rest of the tone, but it was a minor annoyance. Some people may be expecting more of an emotional roller-coaster. The script and the direction were taken in a different direction than "hero-against-conspiring-world." You're meant to identify with different aspects of many characters and not only see things from a single perspective. It's harder to maintain a singular emotional intensity based on this focus. I found it quite effective for what it set out to accomplish (not what some reviewers wished it had accomplished instead).
A minor quibble is that some of the quiet lines were hard to hear and understand (though it could've been bad audio compression artifacts since I watched it on Netflix instant watch so it was not full DVD quality).
You really should see this movie if you care about any of the themes it addresses or you love to watch good acting.
So it was doubly remarkable for me to see not only the excellence of this film, but the subtle, thoughtful and beautifully written story as well. Hats off to both writers (Craig Chester, Alan Hines) as well as the screenplay work by Robert Desiderio. The directing, filming and acting were outstanding. The story is a beautiful discussion of both the goodness and healing qualities of the Christian faith, while also exploring the brittle, rigid quality that faith by rules brings to the table. It does perhaps the best job I've ever seen of painting the complexity of homosexuality and Christianity, as well as the intricate dance that has developed between the two.
I am in particular struck by the roles played by the two males leads (Chad Allen and Robert Gant) and the nuanced, powerful performance by Judith Light. The transitions Allen makes from addict/bad boy to hopeful believer to the beginnings of a healthy gay relationship are brilliant. Robert Gant does exceptional work in the wrestling with the need to please a father he'll never win approval from, and in the dialogues where he confronts (in the person of Judith Light) the issues around Christianity, homosexuality and what it means to be a whole person. And Judith Light is a character I believe only a Christian or ex-Christian can deeply appreciate - believer, teacher, mother in denial for the way she feels she failed her son, defender, injured soul. I've met her echo again and again in my long walk through Christianity. Exceptional story-telling.
Thank you Robert Cary. Thank you actors and writers. Thanks for a kickin' piece of film.
Judith Light was fantastic in a subtle and deep performance as the head of a house that gives those with addiction issues, and who also happen to be gay, a chance to find themselves. Yes, it is done from a Christian perspective, but it really seems to be Christian, and not the counter-programming or brainwashing we usually see.
Mark (Chad Allen) has issues with drug and alcohol addiction and was sent to Genesis House after a suicide attempt.
Gayle (Light) and her husband Ted (Stephen Lang) work to keep the wolf from the door as they help their residents find Jesus and themselves. There always seems to be something going on in their marriage. It really get heated as Scott (Robert Gant) and Mark become closer.
We never really find out why Ted and Gayle's marriage is so strained. maybe it is because he is coming from an alcohol addiction background and is more accepting, while she is trying to make amends for driving away her son without really understanding that love exists in all forms, straight or gay, and that acceptance of others is the only truly Christian way of living.
Judge ye not...
There were some excellent performances in Robert Cary's film, along with beautiful New Mexico scenery and a great soundtrack.
As someone who watches almost no TV, I didn't recognize any of the actors, so I was pleased to discover them in this film. Gant and Allen were fine, Lang was excellent, and Judith Light was an absolute phenomenon: an astonishing performance of understated depth and nuance. She deserved an Oscar nod. The writing was thoughtful and well-balanced between character interaction and personal introspection (through individual disclosures to an off-screen presence revealed at the end of the film). Production values were superb, given what I assume was a small budget.
Along with exploring the psycho-dynamics of the individuals and their subsequently conflicted relationships, the film places the viewer at a level of detachment which promotes compassion for all of the principals - as well as a sense of forgiveness that is Christian in the very best sense of that word.
JUDITH LIGHT!!!! Wow. There is no question now about Who's the Boss! Judith gives a powerful performance that I never thought possible from a SITCOM escapee. After watching this film, I immediately hopped onto IMDb hoping to see that she'd been recognized for her acting in this film. Sadly, she has not been. The woman deserves an award. It's a tragedy that a little loved film such as this doesn't get the audience it deserves.
As opposed to a "good gay movie" this is just a great film where some of the characters happen to be gay.
I loved this film. I can only hope for more like it.
Apparently the producers (who also happen to be the 3 lead actors) worked for years to secure financing and otherwise make this project happen. Obviously they had a clear vision of what the film could be, and their rapport with director Robert Cary helped him achieve that vision although he joined the project relatively late. It is rare for a movie to open my sometimes jaded mind and heart. From now on, thanks to SAVE ME, I will be able to look for the humanity in gay "recovery" crusaders, rather than condemning them out of hand as bigots.
Judith Light deserves an Oscar. SAVE ME is her best work.
He is from TV & so are all of the other actors.
Judith Light & Stephen Lang are devout Christians, They run Genesis House, a home to help homosexuals be saved by the love of Jesus. A few years back her own son killed himself because he was gay, & this one of the reasons they run Genesis House, We are concerned with 2 of the guys. Robert Gant (he was Ben in Queer as Folk) & Chad Allen (many TV shows) Judith Light & Stephen Lang are TV Veterans of many years,
Miss Lights role is not that of a bigot,it is one of a devout Christian misguided but definitely not a true bigot.
This excellent performance & the roles done by Allen & Gant, make this a love story to be seen & discussed.
It does have many clichés as one would expect, they are well handled
This is another film made in New Mexico & the scenery is superb.
It had a few month run in only a handful of theatres this fall.It should of had a better run.
There is only one very short sex scene at the beginning & a few uses of the 'F' word.
I recommend SAVE MR for lovers of good love stories.
I am glad I saw this film.
Ratings *** (out of 4) 87points (out of 100) IMDb 8 (out of 10)
This is a very good film about, as far as I'm concerned, a misguided attempt by fundamentalists to "straighten out" gay men on the premise that it's in the Bible. There's so much in the Bible that contradicts itself, but there's one thing pretty obvious in the New Testament - judgment is to be left to a higher power. A religious group that condemns someone not of their belief system isn't, in my opinion, Christian or religious.
So much for that. The film beautifully demonstrates its own point of view - love and meaningful relationships are what matter, whether between the same or the opposite sex. Jeremy Glazer and Chad Allen give fine performances as two men who have found their way to clean lifestyles but still need to be who they are and seek love with another human being.
The star, of course, is Light, who, deglamorized and with darker hair, bears NO resemblance to the elegant Mrs. Mead on "Ugly Betty." What a performance - and she's been giving great performances for 30 years. One hates her prejudice but realizes that it's born out of her own denial at the same time. Her husband's attempts to understand her, his loyalty to her, and his desire to help her, are very touching. But he doesn't feel as she does.
In "Save Me," we're shown that a place like Genesis has its good points - there's nothing wrong with getting off of drugs and booze and contributing to the community - but it needs to stop there. You can be gay without drugs, booze, and indiscriminate sex. You can also, as so well shown in the film, be gay and religious at the same time. No matter what anyone says, God doesn't discriminate.
The Christians presented here are all very nice people, even if they thoroughly believe that gays are doomed to hell unless they give up homosexuality to fully bring Jesus into their lives. Judith Light is excellent, and it is a tribute to her liberalism and activism on many human right issues that she would take on a role so unlike her real-life persona. You can't fault her character for her feelings on the subject of homosexuality because she is understanding even with all of her bible-thumping Christian mentality. Even in her confrontation scenes with Gant, it is obvious that she only has her client's well being in mind even if she is short-sighted on many aspects of the issue. Stephen Lang is outstanding as her sensitive husband, a recovering addict himself, who actually seems to be more in tuned with the reality of the client's lives. When he stands up to Light, not a lot of words are needed to express this character's feelings on the hypocrisies of the situation. He seems to realize that many of the gay clients quietly hold Christian values to their hearts and honor Jesus in spite of the lashing out at their community by the church.
This is not presented as an attempt to change the minds of Christians who truly believe in everything they read in the bible, but to present the issues as seen through each side of the coin. Hopefully, viewers from each side of the fence will be able to see the points of views of the other and be more understanding as the issue continues to be debated.
Think of the dynamics between the opposites of this movie as the sand and the sea: while being separated entities, there's always something that remains in the sand when the sea pulls back, and there's something of sand in the sea when it retreats from it.
One of the greatest examples of a -very- clever direction work in LGBT filming. Kudos to the entire working group of director, writers, actors and photography team because they perfectly blend an intense story with a very detailed palette of grays with the characters and situations.
Gayle said that in the middle of the movie. I found this totally unbelievable.
I may not be Christian but i absolutely don't understand that kind of thinking if you have doubts about your life, you think about why you're having them doubts don't come out of nowhere,and you rethink your purposes, why you follow the guideline you're following, what made you think like this in the first place and how you're feeling about it now. Doing something just because you've always done so is just stupid it prevents you from becoming someone better and really learn who you are. In this case Gayle just help them with her philosophy when then are in need of something like that and I feel they simply never question it again, it helped them so it has to be the only perfect way for everyone.
am i the only one here?
So the hardest thing in making a film like Save Me is to find players who will not descend into caricature which is so easy to do with these people. This is what makes the performances of Stephen Lang and Judith Light who run the the Christian ex-gay ministry portrayed in Save Me so good. Especially Light, she could have just done a clone of Dana Carvey's church lady.
Chad Allen who's been kicked out of his home for substance abuse and for his gay orientation gets involved with Lang and Light's ministry for young men trying to kick being gay. But while Allen seems to get with the program for awhile those same gender urges keep reappearing, especially when Allen and fellow client Robert Gant start getting those urges for each other.
Gant is an interesting character here, he reminds Light of her late son who was gay and whom she kicked out of her house and who committed suicide. Gant just by his presence provokes a whole lot of guilt in Light she won't confront, just brushing it aside with religion.
There's also a very touching performance by Robert Baker who happens to spot Allen and Gant in a tender moment. It so bothers Baker that he tries to commit suicide because he feels guilt about his own feelings.
Because this film stayed away from caricature, I recommend this film highly, especially to younger gay audiences. And I dedicate this review to the late Phil Zwickler who produced Rights&Reactions who also overcame the same situation in his work.
Through the way this film has been set up, and especially in its ending, it is almost as though we are being expected to just accept that a deep romantic love was / had been taking place. Well, I'm sorry; I didn't sense it happening between characters, Mark and Scott. Lips meeting, dancing with one another, building bird houses together are not enough for me; they are all just surface acts. The two actors filling these roles weren't able to produce that "magic"......that "whatever-it-is" which I was given in the film, "Shelter." In that movie, I knew I had watched love begin and grow. (Interesting then, isn't it, that "Shelter" contains the heterosexual leads and "Save Me" the gay ones). Admittedly, I do recognize that perhaps most of "Save Me" was not written / planned to focus on a "couple" but, rather, was aimed at exposing overzealousness by some in the religious community and their need to "reform" homosexuals. Having said this, I'll now step aside and leave commenting on that aspect of this production to filmgoers far more qualified than I.
As to the performers, a subject on which I'm able to comment: Judith Light is near-phenomenal (you'll never, never, ever relate her to that TV "Ugly Betty" role). Here, before your very eyes, she BECOMES the message of this film. No one else can touch her. We can see Chad Allen trying, as we watch him with her in their one-on-one scenes. Sitting together in a truck at one point, we can almost see his efforts to absorb and keep up with what Light is putting out there----a special ability of hers that not all actors possess. Yet, in his own way, Allen does acquit himself quite well in this film. Then.....there's Robert Gant: I've followed much of Bobby's performing, from his 2002 "Providence" (TV) performance, on up to today. My best impression / description of his acting style is that it's a "tentative" one; he's tentative, subdued. It's like you're always waiting for him to break out----but he almost never takes you to that point. In the end, that's frustrating for an audience. And yet.......few actors project "sincerity" in a character any better than Gant does. In one last point about another longtime thesp, Stephen Lang comes across very admirably.......and when you're able to do that when playing against Light's extraordinary performance, you really are accomplishing something.
To say that this is not a good film, I cannot do. But I expected more.........I hoped for more. (This will not make it to my "Addictive" DVD shelves).
For being a European, I have to say I identify myself with the European legacy of Enlightment and atheism. That does not mean I am not religious, even though that may seem a paradox to most. What do I mean and why do I have to mention here something like this? It is the best possible occasion, believe me.
To say it right away, beyond its nutshell level, the film stages something everybody has and meets all the time, that is what is the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law (and this something that moves beyond its Judeo-Christian register). To show and vary my point, some questions like these arise: On what grounds do I love? What are the violations that actually sanction love? How does that make me feel after I abandon long-established restrictions and show "preferance" towards an individual? And still, do I really love?
Gayle (a recommended performance by the free-spirited Judith Light) who runs Genesis, due to the loss of her gay and addict son years before, develops, one gathers, an unforgiving stance towards "deviations" of lots of kinds, one is afraid, moving towards laying layer upon layer of guilt implacably upon herself - but this is only hinted at.
And this a major problem of the film, hinting. No plausible drama between the guys, a kiss and then - swoop! - love so abstracted, but not foregrounded so that the aforementioned last shot when they leave happily ever after makes one yawn. Strong performances throughout, but the scenario is just a sketch.
The film lacks real nerve in order to rise above its generic nature; it is too obstinately preoccupied with the letter of the law, rather with its - more engaging - spirit. I think religiosity and love are associated with the spirit of the law, not with the flat obsession of the letter the somewhat pedestrian title "Save me" exemplifies.
Next time, wait for a film called "Believe me." That would be nice, don't you think?