Save Me: Save Your Money
In Save Me, a self-destructive gay man is offered salvation from his depraved lifestyle by a most dubious source: Christian conversion therapists, proponents of the extensively discredited but tenacious behavior-modification treatment through which homosexual lovers of Jesus attempt to "pray away the gay." Overseeing operations at Genesis House—the residential treatment center where troubled tweaker Mark (Chad Allen, of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman) finds himself after an especially bumpy bout of partying-and-playing—is Gayle (Ugly Betty's Judith Light), a Christian matron made dour by the death of her own gay son, of whom she's reminded a bit by her new charge Mark, who soon finds himself a fast-growing friendship with the would-be ex-gay dreamboat Scott (Queer as Folk's Robert Gant), who threatens to upset Mark's vulnerable recovery with penetrating gazes and soulful birdhouse-painting.
From this perch of soapy intrigue does Save Me unfurl its heartfelt, somber, fully predictable tale of love and loss and life, and if the end result feels more like a Lifetime movie than something you'd pay money to see, well, that seems to be a guiding aesthetic tenet of the New New Queer Cinema (see Breakfast with Scot).
In approaching its well-trod subject matter, Save Me makes two smart decisions that portend interesting things: The film's Genesis House is firmly on the more enlightened side of the conversion-therapy spectrum (Gayle's group offers no cures for homosexuality, just guidance for "living in Jesus's image"), and our protagonist is so packed with life-threatening compulsions that we can't help feeling somewhat grateful for his rescue, even by insidious Christians (if anyone's willing and able to clean up the big gay mess of Mark, God bless 'em). But for these two smart moves there are a couple dozen clunkers, from the cardboard characters to the semaphore dialogue to the slow, stultifying seriousness choking the whole endeavor. It's depressing.