“To Save a Life” is a Christian movie (I imagine some fleeing already, but read the full review!) about some tough issues: teen suicide, self-harm, bullying, and more (no spoilers) come up in this film.
The movie starts with Jake Taylor attending the funeral of a friend from his younger years–a friend with whom he has lost touch. The friend committed suicide, and this leads Jake to seek answers to a number of questions and “Could I have done something?” is paramount among them.
The movie also explores the themes of faith as Jake interacts with a youth pastor while exploring questions about Christianity.
What makes this movie resonate with me is how accurately it portrays a number of aspects of teenage life. I’m very serious here. I knew people like Jake and his friends, and I also knew people who resembled those in the youth group scenes. The movie doesn’t hold punches, there are teens out to sleep with as many people as possible, there are those who have left the faith and are hostile to any mention of it, there is a persistent caricature of Christian belief which the teenagers think they have figured out, even within the Christian youth group there are “pretenders”–only there because they have to be (or want to hang out with friends).
The issues the film covers are, as mentioned, not easy. Teen suicide, cutting/self-harm, and the like are all portrayed. There are answers found, but they are not easy. They provide challenges to viewers to step out of their comfort zone and realize there are more important things in life than the mundane. Viewers will reflect on the movie for some time afterwards, wondering what it is that I should or could be doing.
Now, I mentioned before it is a Christian movie. Often, unfortunately, this means the acting is terrible. Not so with “To Save a Life.” I was engrossed in the film from the first minute. Jake (played by Randy Wayne) is perfectly cast. He poignantly portrays a troubled teenager reaching out for answers. The acting is not overdone. In scenes in which people are fighting, it is realistically uncomfortable; it feels too real. Watchers will have to fight not to pick out people they knew in the characters throughout the film. And this leads me to my next point:
It was stunning to me to watch the movie and realize how close I have been to being any number of these people. I was very close to being a youth who left the faith because of unanswered questions. I thank God that He provided people with answers around me–and people who were willing to say they didn’t know the answers, and point me in a direction to find them.
I watched the movie with my parents this week. My dad is a pastor and he wanted me to evaluate it for its use in a youth group setting. I can say that without a doubt I think this movie should be viewed by youth groups, but it should also be watched by concerned parents with their children. It will provide a springboard for discussion on some difficult issues.
I very highly recommend “To Save a Life.” It will resonate with some viewers in ways that simple lectures or discussions cannot. It presents a strong Christian message, calling youths to strengthen their faith and be willing to reach out to those who are hurting–a message we would do well to take to heart in a hurting world.
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