The New York Blade on Monday spotlighted actress Judith Light’s role in Save Me, a motion picture starring Chad Allen that is now showing in limited U.S. release.
Gay-media obsessions with heterosexual actors bore me — I have boycotted The Advocate for a decade for this reason. However, writer Dustin Fitzharris does eventually offer useful observations about the movie:
“Save Me,” directed by Robert Cary, follows Mark (openly gay actor Chad Allen), a sex and drug-addicted young, gay man who overdoses and finds himself at the mercy of his disapproving family. Their solution to his problems is Genesis House. At first, Mark resists the efforts of Gayle [Judith Light] and her loving husband (Stephen Lang), but he soon finds solace and brotherhood with the other residents, including Scott (Robert Grant of “Queer as Folk” fame), who is battling demons of his own. Soon, Mark and Scott find their bond is more than friendship, and they have to confront the teachings they’ve begun to accept. Their bond is something Gayle, whose own 17-year-old gay son died of an overdose, can’t bear to witness.
A reviewer at the Internet Movie Database comments:
This story touches on a very sensitive subject that some film makers in the past have tried to put a story to.(and usually failed) A shout out to the cast and director for having the courage to portray such a story without villainizing or stereotyping either side of the spectrum. It really shows the need to open communication lines for two drastically different people to find some common ground and be able to love each other as human beings. Judith Light was phenomenal in her role as Gayle, a deeply religious woman who, with her husband, runs a church and privately funded house to help men fix their “sexual broken-ness”, driven by her own inner termoil and personal experience. Layered with great performances by Chad Hall and Robert Gant contributes to a very eye-opening and touching film.
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly says:
Mark, who is every kind of addict, really does need fixing (of some sort). Even those of us who find anti-homosexual ”deprogramming” to be hideously intolerant and naive may find ourselves oddly relieved that Mark is there. … Gayle would like to fill her charges with the Holy Spirit, but it never occurs to her that the more she succeeds, the more they’ll come to experience the passions inside them as an outgrowth of God’s love.
But three scenarists, helmer Robert Cary and the solid cast all lift “Save Me” past potential cliche — or preachiness — by resisting easy melodrama in favor of styistic restraint and nonjudgmental empathy. Gayle may have a blind spot as big as the all-outdoors — using a simplistic faith-based program to keep her own buried parental guilt at bay — but pic refuses to teach her a politically correct “lesson” she wouldn’t realistically be able to hear anyway. Nor is Mark an especially sympathetic protagonist, as he eagerly swaps secular addictions for supposedly sacred ones.
Indeed, pic loses credibility only in departments where it might be a little too evenhandedly nice: Genesis House is a pretty mild, non-brimstone-and-hellfire version of such facilities, and its residents are a more youthful and attractive lot than you’d typically find thereabouts. (Even supposed fatso Lester would only need a few months’ exercise dedication to morph into a hunk.)
Nathan Lee of the New York Times says:
Directed by Robert Cary from a screenplay by Robert Desiderio that never quite shakes off its aura of second-rate made-for-TV movie, “Save Me” has a lot of heart but little nerve and no surprise.
Judith Light is very good as Gayle, the stern yet loving mistress of Genesis house. But like everyone in the picture, she’ saddled with a reductive motivation (a gay son lost to suicide) that undercuts the film’ genuine sympathy for the emotional hazards of gay life.
Now showing in New York, the movie opens soon in Memphis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, San Francisco, Berkeley, Rochester, Philadelphia, Denver, Washington (D.C.), Columbus (Ohio), and Seattle.