- 1 hr 32 min
Saved! is a 2004 teen comedy-drama film directed by Brian Dannelly and starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, and Patrick Fugit. The film is set in a Christian high school in Maryland, where Mary (Jena Malone) and Hilary (Mandy Moore) are best friends and devoutly religious. However, their friendship is tested when Mary becomes pregnant in an attempt to "save" her gay boyfriend from damnation. The film opens with Mary and her boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) having sex in his van. However, they are interrupted by Hilary, who tells them that their behavior is sinful and that they should abstain from sex until marriage. Hilary is the leader of the Christian Jewels, a group of popular girls who are obsessed with their faith and constantly judge others for not living up to their standards. Mary initially goes along with Hilary's beliefs, but soon begins to question her own faith and the people around her. Meanwhile, Mary's mother Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker) is diagnosed with breast cancer, and she begins to find comfort in the company of another student, the wheelchair-bound Roland (Macaulay Culkin). Roland is an outsider at the school and is constantly bullied by the other students, but he and Mary bond over their shared experiences of being ostracized. Mary also becomes friends with Cassandra (Eva Amurri), a rebellious girl who has been kicked out of several other schools. As Mary's pregnancy progresses, she becomes increasingly isolated from her former friends and the Christian Jewels. She eventually confides in Cassandra, who agrees to keep her secret. However, when Hilary discovers the truth, she spreads it around the school, causing Mary to become even more of an outcast. In an attempt to prove her loyalty to the Christian community, Hilary stages a fake exorcism of Mary during a school assembly. The plan backfires, and Hilary is exposed as a fraud. Saved! tackles some sensitive topics, such as teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, and religious hypocrisy, but does so with humor and heart. The film's ensemble cast is excellent, with standout performances from Jena Malone and Macaulay Culkin. Malone brings depth and nuance to her portrayal of Mary, a girl who is struggling to reconcile her faith with her own desires and experiences. Culkin, in a rare dramatic role, is charming and vulnerable as Roland, who is treated as a pariah by his peers. At its core, Saved! is a story about the importance of being true to oneself and not letting others define who you are or what you believe. The film subverts many of the conventions of the teen comedy genre, with its focus on queer characters and refusal to offer easy answers or tidy resolutions to its conflicts. Overall, Saved! is a smart, funny, and moving film that deserves to be considered a modern classic of teenage cinema.