Three years ago, a controversy erupted when it was revealed that Chad Allen, the actor who had been hired to play famed missionary martyr Nate Saint in End of the Spear, was an openly gay man who had appeared on the covers of magazines like The Advocate. The film's producers, who had already offered Allen the part, decided to brave the furor by honoring that commitment. And Allen, for his part, told reporters he was impressed by the love and sincerity of the Christians that he had worked with on that film, even though they did not agree with his lifestyle.
Something of that dialogue makes its way into Save Me, an independent film that stars Allen as a troubled, drug-addicted gay man named Mark who is sent to a place called Genesis House, where a married couple encourages gay men to commit themselves to Jesus and to change their sexual orientation. The film isn't exactly neutral on the subject of homosexuality itself; produced by Mythgarden, a company founded by Allen and two other gay men, it privileges the pro-gay view in a number of ways. But it does, at least, express an interest in understanding the other side.
The film challenges the viewer right off the bat, with a sequence that cuts back and forth between a church service and a couple of gay men who drive recklessly, do drugs and stop at a motel for some quick and semi-graphic sex. This isn't a porn film by any stretch, but the suggestive poses and flashes of nudity are as frank here as they might be in a typical R-rated sex scene, and it is almost as though the filmmakers were daring the more conservative viewer to walk out of the film.
For those who can stay with the film past that scene, though, the story unfolds in a more thoughtful and nuanced manner than you might ...1