In an interesting twist on an often overplayed formula, MGM Picture’s ‘Saved’ offers a unique perspective of teenage love, high school life and, oddly enough, religion.
The film features Jena Malone (‘Life as a House’) as Mary, an average teenage girl attending American Eagle, a far-from-average Christian high school.
Beginning her senior year with her domineering and overzealously religious best friend Hilary Faye, played by Mandy Moore. Mary sits atop of her school’s social food chain until an unexpected confession turns her world upside down.
After being told by her boyfriend of his closeted homosexuality, Mary is greeted by a vision of Jesus in which she is told to ‘do everything she can to help him.’ To her dismay, she ends up a pregnant outcast, forced to question the faith she has blindly followed for so long.
Soon, Mary is befriended by the school’s other exiles including Hilary Faye’s cynical disabled brother, Roland, played by Macaulay Culkin; Patrick, the principal’s heartthrob son, played by Patrick Fugit; and American Eagle High’s only Jew, a fascinating rebel named Cassandra, played by Eva Amurri.
Together the group of misfits steer their way through the remainder of high school and prom, learning about each other and the meaning of faith.
As far as story is concerned, ‘Saved’ stays true to the proven, yet overused formula of contrived teen romance and social acceptance.
Director Brian Donnelly and writer Michael Urban have, however, added an exaggerated religious element to the film that is different enough from other teen movies to make it distinct.
Rather than focus solely on issues of popularity and puppy love, Donnelly mixes it up by discussing more serious themes of religious guidance and blind faith.
Much like the story, the film’s characters are a mix of old and new.
Performances throughout the film are relatively solid, yet are neither groundbreaking nor without their flaws.
Jena Malone, who has proven her acting ability previously, does not disappoint here. Her performance as an innocent socialite-turned-outcast is believable, yet clich