Starring Jena Malone as Mary (pregnant girl), Mandy Moore as Hilary Faye (religious ringleader), Macaulay Culkin as Roland (Hilary Faye's brother, in the wheelchair), Patrick Fugit as Patrick (pastor's son, Mary's eventual boyfriend) and Eva Amurri as Cassandra (Jewish girl).
Why would anyone turn such a wonderful, revolutionary way of life as Christianity into a cold, lifeless religion? What inspires religion in general?
We like to feel successful, therefore it makes sense that we are drawn to religion. Religion gives us the opportunity to measure ourselves against specific rules and standards and then find out whether we are spiritually successful.
Religion also helps us organize ourselves into comfortable, social units. Thus, as soon as Hillary Faye lost her supporters she had lost the main benefit of her religion.
Christianity began as an extremely risky, Christ-centered, faith-based way of life yet, as Saved! demonstrates, people have turned it into a manmade religion, easily manipulated by anyone who knows all the "correct" answers.
The makers of Saved! go out of their way to demonstrate how much Cassandra, the only outspoken non-Christian in the whole movie, is more mature than all the outspoken Christians around her. She didn't jump through any religious hoops, yet she is more honest with herself than anyone else in the movie. Though Hilary Faye treats her as one who is in desperate need to be "saved," Casandra seems to know a lot more than Hilary Faye about mercy, forgiveness and understanding.
Saved! demonstrates the general truth that all people, religious and nonreligious, need mercy, patience and forgiveness.
God made people different, so it makes sense that people should have a variety of different issues. Thus, the beauty of God's grace: we don't have to be perfect to receive it. God's grace should have a revolutionary effect on our hearts, a drastic softening effect.
Cassandra demonstrates many of the character traits of one who has been affected by grace: She was treated like an outcast, but she still held onto her identity. She offered Mary the support and understanding that she desperately needed. Cassandra also treated Roland as an equal, which not even his Christian-superstar sister, Hilary Faye, could do.
The main character is named "Mary" for obvious reasons. During an inner-monologue she can't help comparing herself to Mary, Jesus' mother, who conceived though she was a virgin. Mary (Jena Malone's character) wished that she had as effective an alibi as Jesus' mother. She felt a connection to Jesus' mother because she thought she heard Jesus tell her to have sex with her boyfriend to save him from homosexuality.
It is ironic that Mandy Moore stars in this movie as a vindictive, religious Nazi because, just two years before Saved!, she had become notorious for her role in A Walk To Remember. She starred in that movie as the sincerely devoted, virtuous daughter of a small-town pastor who influences a rebellious boy to shape up and, for lack of a better word, repent.
Roland: "Are you okay?"
Hilary Faye: "No, Roland... I crashed my van into Jesus! Okay? I have a pimple the size of Jupiter! I am NOT okay!"
Cassandra: "I'm not really a stripper, you know"
Roland: "I'm not really a Christian."
Hilary Faye to Cassandra (right after "saving" her): "Hey Cass! How do you feel?"
Cassandra: "Oh, I'm a whole new girl Hay-Faye."
Hilary Faye: "I Told You! How great is Jesus?"
Cassandra: "Yeah, um, about that... I've decided to devote my life to Satan instead. Thanks though!"