Almost exactly a year ago, Film Forum featured a survey of critics and readers regarding portrayals of Christians in film. Which were the most profound examples of Christians onscreen? Which were the most lamentable?
It is likely that Brian Dannelly's satire Saved! could end up on both lists, depending on which viewer you ask.
Saved! portrays the Christian students of a strictly evangelical Christian high school. These Jesus-praising students have embraced a superficial, judgmental, legalistic form of Christianity that leads them to treat unbelievers and troubled peers with condescension, arrogance, and "intolerance." When Mary (Jena Malone), one of the popular, outwardly pious Christian girls, finds herself pregnant after making a big mistake, she becomes a social outcast. Thus, she learns to sympathize with the other spiritual exiles in the corridors of the school—the wheelchair-bound cynic (Macaulay Culkin) and the Jewish girl (Eva Ammuri), who rejects this peer-pressure form of faith.
Most Christian film critics are appalled by the film, offended by the portrayal of Christians as judgmental, aggressively propagandistic, and condescending. Granted, Dannelly does tend to paint all Christians this way, betraying an unfortunate prejudice. But then again, the film does accurately reflect the un-Christlike behavior of certain sections of the church. Some Christians are speaking up that the film does reflect parts of Christian culture that they have personally experienced.
My full review is at Looking Closer.
Todd Hertz (Christianity Today Movies) writes, "The truth is, the movie is ultimately pro-faith and does make some perceptive criticisms of evangelicals. But not all is well. The problem is a lack of balance between hypocritical, ...1
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