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Listen - although I understand the passion behind this movie, I'm not
going to sing uncritical praises as some have. It has flaws but it's
also not as bad as the weighted user rating suggests (at the time I
wrote this review, it was hovering around a 4.6) However, after viewing
it tonight, I would not say this movie is for the public at large (thus
the undeserved 1 star ratings its garnered - which I believe is more a
rejection of the worldview espoused by the film than an authentic
impression of the movie itself).
Although I contest the sincerity of the low ratings, I think I know
why: To Save A Life is produced by a church and it feels like it.
Primarily - it's a film exhorting Christians to BE followers of Jesus
rather than passive egocentric judgmental consumers. Secondarily - it's
a powerful listening ear to the hurt, depressed and marginalized among
us who may feel invisible to the cold world around them. It also
empathizes with those who wrestle with fundamental questions of purpose
and meaning. Where I appreciated this about the movie, I'm not too sure
how well its narrative will translate to disinterested audiences. It
might come across cliché or as religiously charged melodramatic
propaganda. And I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling this way.
Regardless, you can't go into a horror movie and expect a comedy. Know
what to expect: It's a Christian movie.
That being said, for what it is (and what it was intended to be) my
wife and I both thought it was solid. Narratively and artistically. Our
17 year old cousin Nathan agreed. I'm 30 and my wife is 29 so we're not
too far removed from the high school experience ourselves. As
Christians, we all found the story very authentic. The characters
followed natural paths and the emotion captured never felt
disingenuous. Dialogue can be tricky - and save a few perfectly-timed
cliché moments and pedestrian deliveries, it was engaging and
believable. We also appreciated the humility of Jim Britts writing -
self-indicting the Church as a major contributor to the pain its trying
to heal was both surprising and refreshing.
Also, this may sound lame, but I went in with the preconceived notion
that this would be another 'rich white person' saves 'poor
disenfranchised minority' movie. Ironic - I'm white - but for whatever
reason, it's something I've noticed in movies and television lately and
it's been bothering me. But To Save A Life isn't like that. When I saw
the trailer, I almost wrote it off, thinking it would just carry the
torch. Angry black dude kills himself. Stud white dude saves the day. I
was pleased to be proved wrong as minorities play prominent positive
roles in this movie and its not the rich white kid who rides off into
the sunset as hero as you might have reasonably assumed. Turns out -
dude needs saving too.
On a technical note, as someone who loves film (context - my favorites
include Godfather, John Hillcoat's The Road, PT Anderson's Magnolia,
American Beauty, Children of Men, Fight Club) I'm always mindful of the
cinematography, editing, etc. I especially pay attention in Christian
films - which are typically inept. But not so here. The crew should be
No matter what harsh criticisms will eventually befall To Save A Life
(there will be plenty), this movie exists for people who need to know
they're not alone. Leaders and outcasts. The churched and unchurched.
We all need saving.
Tags for To Save a Life Full Movie
, Joshua Weigel
, Randy Wayne
, Steven Crowder
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