This weekend I took my 13-year-old daughter and one of her friends to see the new movie, "To Save A Life." I wasn't sure what to expect.
I had read a few reviews on Christian websites and had seen enough posts elsewhere to know that the movie portrays teen situations most of us hope our kids avoid - including swearing, drinking, parties, cutting, sex, isolation and suicide. I'd also observed mixed comments from Christians. Some decried the movie for portraying these things, saying they thought they were bringing their children to a clean (by which I presume they meant G-rated) movie. Others were very disappointed that the movie lacked a clear message about the gospel, how Jesus saves us.
I very much enjoyed "To Save A Life." I had feared the movie would present the aforementioned negatives, counter with an "include everyone" message, and leave God out of the picture entirely. This did not happen. The movie realistically portrayed a church and its youth group, including flaws, but also clearly pointed out the value of life, encouraging us to reach out to others in love and bring them to the Lord, knowing how much He loves us all. We were left with a message of hope.
Some say that the movie threw in too much - too many situations, trying to address them all, and that the acting was a bit weak. I agree that not all of the characters were well-drawn, and it sometimes seemed that the main character would become overwhelmed with all that was thrown at him. But the Christian life is like that. Often we believe our lives will get better when we start walking with God, that our paths will become smoother. The truth is that often this is when the bottom drops out and everything goes wrong. So I appreciated the fact that the movie didn't shy away from this.
There was also a clear message about reaching out to the lonely, the outcast, the isolated. We are literally surrounded with people who are hurting. Some of them seek solace in the partying life; others become more and more alone. There's probably not a person walking on this planet who has not at one time or another felt lonely, abandoned, outcast, unloved. It's our job and our privilege to reach out and help them connect with us and with the One Who loves them more than anyone else can, and I loved the way this movie underscored that point.
There is much to dislike in the films Hollywood continually tries to sell us. "To Save a Life" is an opportunity to vote with our wallets and our attendance for those filmmakers who give us what we say we want - realistic yet uplifting portrayals of lives faithfully lived, seeking the Lord's guidance as the storms of life rage around us. I intend to see this movie again, with my 11-year-old daughter at my side, and I encourage others to do the same.
*(This post by literary agent Dan Balow is excerpted from an article that first appeared on The Steve Laube Agency blog. It is used with his permission.)* ...