"To Save a Life": Movie Review (2010)

1/23/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"To Save a Life"

Directed by Brian Baught, written by Jim Britts, rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Jeremy Wilkinson

Director Brian Baugh’s first film, “To Save a Life,” is a Christian drama that addresses some very serious issues. Acts like suicide and cutting are featured, and the film tries to serve as a beacon for those grappling with hopelessness. It’s a commendable attempt, despite some major flaws.

Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) is your typical high school king--he’s popular, great at sports and has a beautiful girlfriend. Things seem to be going well for him until he witnesses his childhood friend’s suicide. After the funeral, Jake encounters the pastor who presided over it. The pastor introduces himself as Chris (Joshua Weigel) and invites Jake to come to a youth group. Jake begins to question his life and the actions he takes.

One of the problems with Christian films is that they can come off as very preachy. “To Save a Life” doesn’t necessarily tone down its religious overtones, but it does try to make the religious aspects as organic as possible. It is still a major part of the story, but it plays out a little better than you might expect.

Throughout, the acting is competent, with a few hiccups here and there. Randy Wayne seems a bit bland from time to time, which causes his scenes to suffer. One of the better performances is by Robert Bailey Jr. who plays Roger, the friend who commits suicide at the beginning of the film. The look in his eyes before the act and how he delivers his lines are very sad. He brings a quiet desperation to the character.

While some of the techniques used to tell the story work (such as the use of the flashbacks), the overuse of slow-motion ceases to add drama after the second time. Thereafter, it only serves to detract from the experience. The other big problem is the amount of drama. At times, it feels like too much goes wrong and the film becomes melodramatic. At time, you'd swear you were watching an “after school special.”

The religious overtones are hard to excise, which could be a problem depending on how you feel about Christianity. For some, this will only enhance the film but for others, it will only serve as a distraction. I’m not Christian and I liked the film.

Despite the problems, the film still works. All of the people you are meant to feel sympathy for are sympathetic. Also, aside from a couple of characters, all feel like real people. The humor in the movie is funny and helps to alleviate some of the aforementioned melodrama. In the end, it’s a competent film that admirably does its best to shed light on some disturbing problems teens continue to face.

Grade: B-

View the trailer for "To Save a Life" below.  What are your thoughts?

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