Friday, October 24, 2008

SLGFF 2008 #5 - A different kind of tolerance...

The first Centerpiece feature of this year's fest, Save Me (6/8), follows a young druggie gay boy named Mark (Chad Allen) who hits rock-bottom in a hotel room, overdosed on cocaine after yet another fling with a random guy. Mark's brother is fed-up, tired of scraping his brother out of the gutter and gives him an ultimatum: Clean up a Christian retreat center that focuses on healing and saving gay men, or the family will basically disown him, putting him back on the street for the last time. Mark very reluctantly decides to go to the Christian recovery center.

Genesis, as the Christian center is called, is run by warm and very hetero middle-aged couple Gayle and Ted, but it is really Gayle (the fabulous Judith Light) that runs the show. She is stern and is the enforcer. The men can always leave, but if they stay, they have to follow the rules. But what no one expects is that Mark will actually embrace his own recovery, as well as Jesus, but also will fall in love with Scott (Robert Gant), one of the other ex-gay recoverees at the center.

Folks at the fest screening were delighted and more than a little star-struck that Robert Gant (best known as Ben from Queer As Folk) was there in person. Believe me, the entire audience of men and women were shamelessly drooling (he is just as hunky in person as on screen), and he is quite the rambler when it came to answering audience questions (but in a nice way—see? I have a crush, too!). He pointed out that the filmmakers were careful to be equal-opportunity when it came to the characters, and never to demonize the Christian characters in the film. In fact, that is what I liked about Save Me—all the characters are flawed and complex, and Judith Light ends up being one of the more sympathetic characters in the story as she struggles with her true love for the men she is trying to help, but is also struggling over guilt for the dead son that she was too late to save. It is a solid film, and will appeal to those that liked the equally sympathetic Mormon vs. Gays tale Latter Days.

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