2 February 2009 | arizona-philm-phan
"Perhaps not what you'll be expecting............."
This is NOT a gay romance, or gay love story (even though there is a kiss and some meaningful / longing looks). I never developed a feeling I was seeing true romantic love. However, I was often noting something that purported to be religious love. So, no, you're not going to see any memorably well-done love scenes such as witnessed in the movie, "Shelter" (definitely need more films like that one). Instead, this is a "Message Film".....a tale of persons / organizations who aim to remold who people are----to remake people's innermost selves. BUT.......as a viewer you should remain aware that, in the end, such a goal is not going to be successful. Still, there will be cases / instances of supposedly successful personality change presented in order to convince us otherwise (just know that if personality alterations are brought about, they will be surface ones only).
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).